Addressing Stakeholder-Identified Priorities
Requests for applications (RFAs) or requests for proposals (RFPs) of many grants programs require that project proposals be linked to stakeholder-identified priorities for research, extension, education, and/or regulatory approaches in IPM. This criterion for evaluating projects may be poorly understood by proposal writers and/or inconsistently evaluated by proposal review panelists. This document discusses the issue to provide guidance to both grant writers and review panelists within the context of grants programs managed by the Southern Region IPM Center.
Clarity of the Link from the Proposal to the Priority
The evaluation of a proposal will hinge on how well the proposal writer explicitly shows that the project addresses a stakeholder-identified priority. Proposals are strengthened in this regard if the link is clearly made and if the priority addressed is relatively strong (as indicated by attributes discussed below).
"Stakeholder" refers to any person or group with an interest in IPM for the particular setting involved. Stakeholder groups include the groups mentioned below, but this list is by no means exclusive or exhaustive.
Usually proposals are strengthened by addressing priorities that are identified by a broad range of stakeholders. A priority identified as such by two stakeholder groups may be considered as having more value than a priority identified by only one group. Priorities agreed upon by many stakeholder groups are often considered more valuable than those agreed upon by few.
Needs and Priorities
The term "needs" is not synonymous with the term "priorities". Identifying priorities usually entails sorting the larger list of needs to pick those that are most important and/or should be addressed first. Thus the list of priorities for a setting is a subset of and often much smaller than the list of needs for the same setting. Many people feel that the power of a list of priorities is inversely related to the length of that list of priorities.
The timeliness of a stakeholder-identified priority affects its value. The date that the priority is identified helps to indicate timeliness, but even a chronologically "old" priority may be as valid and timely as a newly identified priority. To evaluate timeliness one should consider whether the results of prioritization are still valid, or whether, on the other hand, either the need has been addressed or other needs might have displaced it in the prioritization.
Access to the Priority
An important attribute of a stakeholder-identified priority for the purposes of evaluating grant proposals is that the priority can be easily found by any able person interested in finding IPM priorities for this setting. If an issue is truly a priority for a stakeholder group, that group should not care who addresses it but only that it be addressed well and in a timely fashion. Thus a real priority is readily available as such to anyone. Coincidentally reviewers should be able to easily verify the validity of any citation of a priority.
Some Sources of Stakeholder-Identified Priorities
There are many avenues for posting and finding stakeholder-identified priorities. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
PMSPs and Crop Profiles
The standard template for Pest Management Strategic Plans (PMSPs) includes stakeholder definition of priorities for research, extension and regulatory efforts. As such, well-written PMSPs should be excellent sources of stakeholder-identified priorities.
Crop Profiles describe the IPM situation at the time they are written and provide information about IPM needs. Crop Profiles are not required to entail either a strong component of stakeholder input or a structured process to prioritize needs.
For the purposes of grant competitions, the Southern Region IPM Center routinely does not consider Crop Profiles to be a particularly good source of stakeholder-identified priorities.
Letters of Support
Proposal writers often include letters of support from stakeholders or stakeholder groups, sometimes in lieu of any other linkage to stakeholder-identified priorities. The value of such letter can vary a great deal based on several considerations:
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