How Can I Obtain a Copy of a Winning Proposal from a Federal Agency?

I understand that we have the right to request a review of a past winning grant proposal from a federal agency. Can you recommend an approach that would get results?

Funded federal grant proposals are public information, and can be requested with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. However, there are alternative ways to get a copy or two.

• Check the federal agency web site. If you are lucky, there may be samples posted there that you can download.

• Call the program officer in charge of the grant program you’re interested in and simply ask for a copy of the top ranked proposal in the last competition. Because the funded proposals are public information, he or she may provide it to you.

• If that route doesn’t work, your congressperson can get a copy for you. When asking for help from your congressperson, be specific about the program title and ask for the top rated proposal from the last competition.

• If you know anyone who received a grant last year, they might be more than willing to share. Most people are.

• Finally, you can use the Freedom of Information Act to request copies. If you find you must take this route, seek information from the federal program contact and google instructions for the process. You will have to pay for the photocopies, and any proprietary information that the applicant wants removed will be redacted. The Freedom of Information Act only applies to federal agencies. It’s different for private funders–foundations and corporations. Private funders have no obligation to be objective, and no obligation to share proposals they’ve funded.