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Laboratory Directed Research and Development
Detailed Proposal Guidance

Cover Sheet

Project titles should be complete, and indicate what is new and innovative. They should enable reviewers to differentiate between the project and other ongoing research. Generic titles should be avoided, such as “Ceramic Studies” or “Data Acquisition Electronics.” Titles should be technically informative and up to 12 words in length. An example is: “Experimental Testing of Novel Mismatch Repair Enzymes for Mapping Natural Genetic Polymorphisms.”

Typically, the location of the research should not be included in the title unless the scope of the project bears directly on the facility. Phrases such as “at Berkeley Lab,” “at RHIC at Brookhaven,” or “at the ALS” normally are not useful. If the project location does have such bearing, it is important to make clear in the proposal the difference between the project and the existing operating program, including the reason the project does not augment the facility’s budget. Because LDRD is for conducting actual research rather than establishing organizations, titles and proposals need not refer to the creation of centers or institutes, but rather address the technical context of the project itself.

The purpose and approach statements of the proposal cover sheet will be used for the approval submissions and reports sent to DOE. Thus, these paragraphs should be self-contained and complete, and must fit in the space provided. The form is to be prepared and submitted electronically through the web-based proposal submission system.

Projects that may extend beyond one year should describe what is achievable during each fiscal year. Multi-year projects must compete each year with all other new and continuation proposals, and resubmissions should indicate what is being accomplished during the current year and what is being proposed for the fiscal year under proposal review.


Narratives and budgets must be consistent. If staff effort and activities are described in the narrative, they must be covered in the budget. LDRD projects cannot be supported by other funds, either DOE or Work For Others. LDRD projects may utilize existing equipment or facilities of the laboratory, and they may acquire or fabricate additional equipment. However, if the scope of the project is to fabricate new innovative equipment, both the operational effort of personnel and purchase of items must be completely covered in the LDRD project budget. LDRD budgets must be able to achieve a self-contained scientific purpose and scope. Thus LDRD projects cannot be proposed solely for the purchase of equipment, since this equipment must be operated to achieve some purpose. However, the preliminary design or prototype fabrication of new equipment may be proposed to extend or develop some new technique, process, capability, etc.

For approved projects, divisions must retain notes or documentation of cost estimates provided in the proposed budgets, following budgetary guidance issued by the Chief Financial Officer. These notes should include the estimates of staffing levels and notes of vendor quotes or catalog references. Notes for funded projects should be held in division files for potential cost validations to be performed by the Department of Energy or other auditors. During proposal preparation, Principal Investigators should retain notes in anticipation of these cost validation requirements. Divisional organization burden is to be included, which is around 16-22%, as well as appropriate indirect costs. The Laboratory’s site support burdens are included in LDRD costs, and are not to be redirected to other cost categories. Please consult with division staff or the Budget Office for specific details of your division’s burden rate and indirect charges. LDRD projects have overhead accounts monitored by the Directorate and are not a part of other budget units of the Laboratory. Nevertheless, all staff administering the LDRD accounts must adhere to all financial and cost accounting principles as well as other programmatic requirements applicable to the Laboratory and their division. Monthly cost profiles will be required of all successful projects at the start of the fiscal year.

Proposal Narrative

The proposal narrative is to be a maximum of three pages, though a fourth page of figures and references may be included. It should be a brief, stand alone description of the scientific goal(s) or problem(s), the hypothesis for a solution, and the work to be performed to test the hypothesis. Descriptions should also include the significance and value of the work if successful. There should also be a short discussion of who will conduct the work, and continuing projects must include a statement of progress to-date and future plans within the three-page limit. The proposal will be photocopied in black-and-white and so should be readable, and any figure(s) informative, in such a reproduction. There should be adequate 1” margins for readability and three-hole punch.

A lab-wide Linux cluster computer named Lawrencium is available to the Lab scientific community for general use. Details about the cluster can be found at  If you require access to this cluster for your proposed project, you should include this information in the proposal and estimate the number of node-hours you will be requesting for the fiscal year.

Annual Report

Information for the Annual Report will be requested during the first two months of the following fiscal year. The purpose of the report is to give a brief overview of the project and its general scope of accomplishments to the Department of Energy and senior laboratory managers. The request will call for a Project Description, typically an update and revision to the “purpose and approach” paragraphs of the proposal coversheet, and an additional one to three paragraphs to describe the findings/outcomes for the year. Long, elaborate narratives of methodological details, extensive tabular data, or detailed scientific justification or results, will not be appropriate to this report. Other requirements are a list of published, submitted, or draft papers and reports that are the direct result of project funding, and answers to a questionnaire on program metrics such as people hired and/or invention disclosures. This report is not considered a “publication,” rather it is a short synopsis for reporting to government entities on the use of taxpayers funds. Information should not be included in this report that is appropriately reserved for a scientific publication or patent disclosure. The final report is made available to the National Technical Information Service and posted on the World Wide Web.