General Lab Information

Create a Proposal

There are three key steps to developing and submitting your proposal:

  1. Completing a Risk Assessment and receiving approval to proceed
  2. Developing a proposal
  3. Receiving approval to submit the proposal

When you identify a funding opportunity discuss with your supervisor and or chair your strategy for making a successful application.

1. Complete Risk Assessment, Receive Approval

Before beginning the proposal writing phase, you must answer questions in the Proposal Information Management System (PIMS). Your entry will be reviewed by the Sponsored Programs Office, your Business Office, and Research Operations staff. Your departmental management must authorize you to proceed. Completing a PIMS entry helps us track and support your proposal.

2. Develop Your Proposal

The following is a summary. See the full SBMS Proposal Process Subject Area for details.

After completing a Proposal Information Management System entry, use the proposal template provided by the funder (in the solicitation) as a guide to developing your proposal. If the funder did not provide a template, the Proposal Center can assist with creating one specific to the opportunity which captures elements critical for a successful proposal. Below is an example template—but every call is different and our trained proposal managers can help prepare a template specific for your call.

Elements of a successful proposal

  • Clear and well written – it's obvious who will do what, how, and why
  • Succinct, but specific – deliverables and expected outcomes are clearly stated
  • Builds on, rather than duplicates, previously funded work
  • Specifically notes how the project will support the funder's objectives
  • Is consistently and clearly linked to the funder's mission and goals
  • Written in the active voice
  • Emphasizes continuous engagement throughout the project


Regardless of the size, scope, and complexity of the solicitation, all proposals need to be planned. When planning, consider the following.

  • Team. Who's going to be on it?
  • Reviewing solicitations. Is a collaboration involved? Will letters of support be required?
  • Outline. What's the structure of your proposal going to be?
  • Writing assignments. Will you write everything yourself, or will you delegate certain sections to others?
  • Collaborating Proposals. There are two scenarios for proposals involving collaborations: Brookhaven Lab is the lead, or the Laboratory is a sub-awardee. Which scenario describes your project? If collaborating, contact your Business Office for specific guidance. For more complex, high dollar value proposals, additional tools should be considered and can be found in the Proposal Subject Area or you can contact the Proposal Center.
  • PIER Plan. Does your proposal require a Promoting Inclusive and Equitable Research (PIER) Plan? The DOE Office of Science requires that all proposals submitted have an appendix which contains a PIER Plan. The PIER Plan describes the activities and strategies that applicants will implement to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in their research projects. Please use the BNL PIER Plan Template and the PIER Plan Guidance document to assist you in addressing the DOE PIER requirements for your proposal. PIER Plan Template | PIER Guidance

Contract Types

Several contract vehicles are available to support an award and receive funding. The Sponsored Programs Office will advise you on what is the most appropriate agreement for the work you are going to undertake. Below is some general information about each of the agreement types. Review the details of each or review the contract comparison chart to see how they differ.


CRADAs provide a flexible way for non-federal entities to access the unique technologies, facilities, and expertise available at BNL on a collaborative basis. Research work under a CRADA may be performed at BNL, at the laboratory of the non-federal participants(s), or at both institutions, and work is usually supported by contributions from all participants in the CRADA. BNL contributions to the CRADA can take the form of personnel, facilities, equipment, and other resources, but BNL cannot provide funds to the other participant. Non-federal participant contributions can take the form of funds, personnel, facilities, equipment, and other resources. Benefits include the following.

  • BNL and the participant can negotiate the sharing of intellectual property, such as rights to patents, protection of confidential information and licensing rights.
  • The participant can take advantage of the unique world renowned BNL facilities.
  • Data generated as a part of a CRADA effort can be treated as proprietary for up to five years and is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

A DOE Modular CRADA has been established to expedite the DOE approval process and provides BNL and the non-federal participant flexibility to negotiate rights to inventions and other intellectual property. All CRADAs are subject to the approval of DOE.

Strategic Partnership Projects

Research initiatives funded by outside sources (sponsored research) are conducted through the DOE's Strategic Partnership Projects (SPP) program. While most research conducted at Brookhaven National Laboratory is financially supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, funding from other Federal agencies in the form of interagency agreements or grants can also be beneficial and appropriate. Funding arrangements of this kind can help advance the Laboratory's own research goals and interests and enable BNL scientists to engage in some of the important research challenges currently faced by other Federal agencies, including research associated with homeland security, countering terrorism, medical challenges, and more.

The guiding principles of the SPP process seek to assure that the proposed sponsored research assignment will:

  • Be consistent with or complementary to the missions of DOE and BNL.
  • Not adversely impact execution of regularly assigned BNL programs.
  • Not place BNL in direct competition with the domestic private sector.
  • Not create a detrimental future burden on DOE resources.

SPP Forms

  • Federal SPP Proposal Information Questionnaire (.doc)
  • Non-Federal SPP Proposal Information Questionnaire (.docx)
  • DHS Revised SSP Proposal Information Questionnaire (.doc)
  • DOE Proposal Information Questionnaire (.doc)
  • NRC Proposal Information Questionnaire (.doc)

Agreement for Commercializing Technology

The Agreement for Commercializing Technology (ACT), a new technology transfer mechanism, is now available for use. Brookhaven National Laboratory is among seven other national laboratories that are piloting this new mechanism to partner with businesses and other non-federal entities.

ACT was created to make negotiation between non-federal entities and the national laboratories more flexible and timely. In the past, private industry utilizing the current sponsored research avenues, CRADAs or Work for Others agreements, have come up against several barriers imposed by the Department of Energy's policies and procedures. With ACT, Brookhaven's contractor, Brookhaven Science Associates, LLC (BSA), is authorized to take on risks that the U.S. Government cannot. This will provide more flexible terms that are geared towards private industry practice, such as IP rights, payment arrangements, indemnification and development of multi-party research and development partnerships, just to name a few. With the flexibility that ACT provides, more private companies that are unable to do work under a CRADA or WFO agreement, will now have an option to do work with the national laboratories under an ACT agreement.

Technical Services Agreement

BNL’s proposed guidelines for using the proposed TSA are as follows.

  • Technical service utilizes BNL’s unique capabilities which are not readily available in the private sector.
  • Technical service does not involve research and development activity.
  • Technical service will not result in creation of intellectual property.
  • Technical service will be for a maximum cost of $250k
  • Technical service will be completed within 3 years
  • TSA’s can be used only with US sponsors
  • All proposed TSA’s will be processed as an SPP proposal including internal BNL and DOE approvals.
  • Terms of the TSA are non-negotiable

BNL scientists can participate as a sub-contractor to a small business which is applying for SBIR or STTR funds.

Interagency Agreement

Interagency Agreements are required when performing work for a non-DOE federal agency. Terms and conditions need to be negotiated with the Department of Energy. Contact Erick Hunt, Ext. 2103 for further information.

The agreement type will determine roles and responsibilities of partners – if there are copyrights, intellectual property or software generated during the course of the proposal please take advice from our Intellectual Property expert (Dorene Price, Ext. 4153) and/or our Commercialization representative (Poornima Upadhya, Ext. 4711) before any publication or dissemination of results.

Statement of Work (SOW)

A central element of a successful proposal package is a sound Statement of Work that has a coherent Scope, Schedule, and Budget.

  • Scope. A detailed description of what you intend to do for the Sponsor.
  • Schedule. When will you do it? When are the major milestones/deliverables due?
  • Budget. How much will it cost? Labor, materials, subcontracts, travel, etc. Are the costs properly burdened?

The SOW sets the stage for proposal development and contract negotiation by clearly stating the scope, by highlighting the key milestones and deliverables, and by clearly showing how the Sponsor’s funds will be used. It also assures your Business Office is engaged early in the process. The SOW can be refined as the process proceeds.


There are different letters that can be required by a call for proposals. The most common letters are:

Letter of Intent (LOI)
This letter comes from the Lead Project Director or as stated in the proposal solicitation. It is the responsibility of the PI/Proposal Center to meet the LOI requirements of the solicitation and provide the signed letter for the final proposal package.

Letter of Commitment
This letter comes from the BNL Office of Sponsored Programs or respective Associate Laboratory Director. The Proposal Center/Budget Proposal Coordinator will reach out to the PI for required information needed to submit a request for this letter and provide the signed letter for the final proposal package.

Letter of Authorization
This letter comes from the DOE Brookhaven Site Office (BHSO) and requires a minimum of ten business days to process. The Budget Proposal Coordinator will reach out to the PI for required information needed to submit a request for this letter and provide the signed letter for the final proposal package.

3. Receive Approval to Submit Proposal

Final Proposal Approval: The PI and Department Proposal POC are ultimately responsible for receiving approval to submit the proposal. The risk assessment in PIMS entry for the proposal must be approved by the Department Chair before the proposal can be submitted to the sponsor.

Proposal Submission: Timely submission of the proposal is ultimately the responsibility of the PI. However, proposals that require submission via, NSPIRES etc. must be coordinated through the designated BNL staff. See Proposal Submission Authorities for contact by sponsor. Note: The respective contact must be given at least two weeks notice in advance of submission due date.

The PI and Department Proposal POC will notify all parties involved that the final proposal has been submitted to the sponsor.

Proposal Contacts

Proposal Agency Budget / SPO Contact Alternate Contact
Non-DOE Federal submissions
(via and sponsor specific mechanisms)
Alison Schwarz Ivar Strand
DOE submissions
(via, PAMS and sponsor specific mechanisms)
Rolf Lageraaen Lisa Morello
SPP Non-Federal, ACT and CRADAs Ivar Strand Janet Morfopoulos

Funding Opportunities

Proposal Preparation

Contracts and Agreements

Technology Commercialization

Intellectual Property