The federal agencies are constantly searching for external grant reviewers to join their rolls. They are seeking to solve two problems: 1) ensuring a sufficient level of expertise and skill is present in the review panel and 2) ensuring the reduction of bias in funding recommendations by reducing conflicts of interest. In order to solve those problems they need extensive databases of potential reviewers. As we become a more connected society, more and more collaboration has made the resolution of second problem more difficult for agencies.
Researchers are always seeking to solve some problems of their own including: 1) applying successfully to fund their research and 2) understanding the demands of sponsors. Becoming a peer reviewer in your field not only is an excellent way to serve your field, it will give you the insider's view to how the agency most likely to fund your project works. It will give you direct contact with the very program officers who may review your future application. Additionally, it will provide the opportunity to join a network of experienced colleagues in your field for future collaboration.
Each agency has out a call for experienced researchers to become external grant reviewers. They use various terms to describe these individuals and may differentiate between a panelist and a reviewer. Even stakeholders without specific expertise are being sought by funding agencies. Gallaudet University has already had several faculty researchers serve as reviewers on federal, external grant panels. Their participation improves funding that has a direct impact on many issues affecting deaf/hh individuals. The OSP encourages all researchers at Gallaudet to seek out the opportunity to review in their field.
Below are just a few of the many examples of calls for grant/peer reviewers by federal agencies:
Environmental Protection Agency - http://www.epa.gov/ncer/peerreview/reviewers/index.html#howtobecomepr
The National Endowment for the Humanities - Call for "panelist and reviewers" - http://www.neh.gov/grants/application-process
US Department of Education - Call for "field readers" - http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/trio/seekingfieldreaders.html
National Science Foundation - Call for NSF reviewers - http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/merit_review/reviewer.jsp