(a) What programs are covered by this section? This section applies to any program for which the Secretary establishes priorities for selection of applications in a particular fiscal year.
(b) How does the Secretary establish annual priorities?
(1) The Secretary establishes final annual priorities by publishing the priorities in a notice in the Federal Register, usually in the application notice for that program.
(2) The Secretary publishes proposed annual priorities for public comment, unless:
(i) The final annual priorities will be implemented only by inviting applications that meet the priorities (Cross-reference: See 34 CFR 75.105(c)(1));
(ii) The final annual priorities are chosen from a list of priorities already established in the program's regulations;
(iii) Publishing proposed annual priorities would seriously interfere with an orderly, responsible grant award process or would otherwise be impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest;
(iv) The program statute requires or authorizes the Secretary to establish specified priorities; or
(v) The annual priorities are chosen from allowable activities specified in the program statute.
(c) How does the Secretary implement an annual priority? The Secretary may choose one or more of the following methods to implement an annual priority:
(1) Invitations. The Secretary may simply invite applications that meet a priority. If the Secetary chooses this method, an application that meets the priority receives no competitive or absolute preference over applications that do not meet the priority.
(2) Competitive preference. The Secretary may give one of the following kinds of competitive preference to applications that meet a priority.
(i) The Secretary may award some or all bonus points to an application depending on the extent to which the application meets the priority. These points are in addition to any points the applicant earns under the selection criteria (see § 75.200(b)). The notice states the maximum number of additional points that the Secretary may award to an application depending upon how well the application meets the priority.
(ii) The Secretary may select an application that meets a priority over an application of comparable merit that does not meet the priority.
(3) Absolute preference. The Secretary may give an absolute preference to applications that meet a priority. The Secretary establishes a separate competition for applications that meet the priority and reserves all or part of a program's funds solely for that competition. The Secretary may adjust the amount reserved for the priority after determining the number of high quality applications received.