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District Process for Initiating a Project with a CESU

    The following process will be used by USACE District Project Managers to initiate projects with member CESU universities.

    Step 1. Identify project and appropriate Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit (CESU).
    The first step in the process is to identify an appropriate research effort for a cooperative agreement. There must be a public benefit to the project and a clear R&D element/need. Having a university host a workshop is not considered R&D and should not be the sole purpose of a CESU cooperative agreement. Once a need has been identified, choose the appropriate CESU unit to utilize. This can be done in a variety of ways including a review of CESU websites for ongoing or completed projects conducted by member universities. For information about each individual CESU unit visit the CESU National Network’s website at Note – The CESU process is a competitive mechanism and is not intended to be a way to sole source to a university.

    Step 2. Prepare a Statement of Interest
    After identifying a need, the District Technical POC will prepare a Statement of Interest (SOI) (go-by available) – which is akin to a Scope of Work but is much broader in its description. A CESU Cooperative Agreement is intended to be a flexible R&D arrangement between the Corps and a university sharing project responsibilities. The SOI briefly describes the effort to be accomplished and materials required for the response. A sample SOI can be viewed here. Submit the completed SOI via e-mail attachment to the Jennifer Seiter-Moser ( and Sherry Whitaker (

    Step 3. Transferring Funds
    Before ERDC Contracting can request that a SOI is posted to a CESU website, funding must be transmitted to ERDC via a Direct Fund Cite (DFC) MIPR (Military Interdepartmental Purchase Request). For those Districts not familiar with setting up a DFC MIPR please see the detailed instruction provided here.

    Step 4. Posting the SOI
    After MIPR’s are received and the SOI has been reviewed/approved for posting, ERDC Contracting office will contact the CESU Host University to post the SOI. The SOI will be posted by the Host University to the CESU website. The District Technical POC will be informed by the Contracting Office when the SOI is posted for the required minimum of 10 working days. The SOI must remain posted for 10 working days per DoD CESU competition guidelines.

    Step 5. Request for Full Proposal
    Since the CESU process must allow full competition between all CESU Universities within the targeted CESU, the requesting District Technical POC must review all CESU University responses to the SOI (if more than one is submitted) and provide a recommendation to the Contracting POC as to which response will best meet their project needs. This decision will not be based on financial comparison but on technical expertise. The ERDC Contracting Office will forward all SOI responses to the District (if more than one is submitted). The District will then prepare a Request for Full Proposal (RFP) and Contracting will review and approve. A sample RFP can be viewed here. The Contracting POC will then request the full proposal from the selected Recipient via e-mail. Two weeks is the customary time allowed for the University’s response but this time can be reduced if required by the District.

    Step 6. Technical Evaluation – Contracting Actions
    After receipt of the full proposal by the Contracting POC, it will be forwarded to the District Technical POC for evaluation. Upon approval from the District Technical POC to proceed with the award process, the proposed project and budget will be justified/validated by the Contracting POC. Before an award can be made, all budget categories and budget items must be justified and the appropriate documents prepared for legal review. Please see the “Budget & Justification” section of the RFP for more details.

    When Contracting has all necessary approvals to award the Cooperative Agreement, an award letter will be sent to the University - along with a copy of the proposed cooperative agreement - for their approval. The University’s Sponsored Programs Office must then approve the document and return it to Contracting to fully execute the Cooperative Agreement. The ERDC Contracting Office will sign the cooperative agreement and distribute a copy of the Fully Executed award.

    Upon receipt of the “fully executed award”, the District Technical POC and Financial POC indicated on the original MIPR may notify the appropriate RM personnel to obligate their funds in CEFMS. NOTE – Cooperative agreements are exempt from the prompt payment Act and must be set up in CEFMS that way to avoid interest penalties.

    Step 7. Average Time to Award
    Generally the time required for a CESU cooperative agreement to be completed is between 2-3 months. This time is dependent on the time it takes the District to transmit the funds, the University’s responsiveness to ERDC Contracting requests (e.g., full proposal / budget justification), and the workload for ERDC CESU Contracting Specialists.

    Step 8. Reporting/Invoicing Schedules
    The District Technical POC will determine the reporting requirements for the award recipient. This requirement can range from monthly progress reports and an annual final report to less frequent (semi-annual) progress reports followed by a final report. Invoicing from the University can be monthly or less frequent per their expenditure rate. District Tech POC’s will be notified and asked to approve all invoices/reports. If approval is not received from the District, ERDC cannot proceed with the payment process.

    Step 9. Options for Out-Year Funding
    Districts have the option of continuing a project for up to 5 years (60 months) from the date of award of the original CESU cooperative agreement (CA). Each funded time period for a project is called the period of performance (POP). The continuation work must be within the scope of the original SOI objectives. If the District anticipates wanting to fund continuation work under the CA, they should be careful not to let the POP expire as it will end that CA.

    The District Tech POC must begin working with ERDC Contracting office 60 days ahead of the POP expiration date to begin the process to continue the CECU project. This process will begin when the CESU University submits to Contracting a modification (mod) proposal to the original CA requesting additional funds for follow-on work. If the District approves and has the necessary funds to cover it, the process begins to extend the POP for this CA.

    Step 10. Multi-Year Proposals / Awards
    A CESU university has the option of submitting a multi-year proposal. If a university wanted to submit a 3 year proposal, they would submit a technical proposal covering each proposed period of performance and separate budget for each period of performance and request a base period and options to be funded.

    For example, a multi-year budget would include a base period of performance of Jan 2010 – Dec 2010 @ $100K, Option Year 1 period of performance of Jan 2011 – Dec 2011 @ $75K, and Option Year 2 period of performance Jan 2012 – Dec 2012 @ $50K.

    The District will only fund the base period at time of award. 60 days prior to the expiration of the POP of the base period, the District will notify ERDC Contracting if they intend to exercise the Option period. The District will transfer funds in the amount to fully fund the option year and ERDC Contracting will modify the CA to exercise the option.

    Contact for additional information:

    • ERDC CESU Technical Lead: Jennifer Seiter-Moser
    • ERDC Technical POC: Sherry Whitaker
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