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U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Research
Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program

CLOSED - FOR REFERENCES PURPOSES ONLY

Environmental Behavior and Decisionmaking: Determining the Effectiveness of Environmental Information Disclosure and Provision

Sorting Codes: 2005-STAR-G1
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s): 66.509

Solicitation Opening Date: December 23, 2004
Solicitation Closing Date: April 13, 2005, 4 p.m. EST
Application Receipt Deadline Date: April 13, 2005, 4 p.m. EST

Eligibility Contact:
Thomas Barnwell, Ph. 202-343- 9862; email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov

Technical Contact:
Matthew Clark, Ph.D.; Ph: 202-343-9807; email: clark.matthew@epa.gov

Table of Contents:
SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
  Synopsis of Program
  Award Information
  Eligibility Information
  Application Materials
  Contact Person(s)
FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION
  Introduction
  Background
  Specific Areas of Interest
  References
  Special Requirements
  Authority and Regulation
AWARD INFORMATION
ELIGIBILITY
  Eligible Applicants
  Cost Sharing
APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION
  Address to Request Application Package
  Content and Form of Application Submission
  Submission Dates and Times
  Intergovernmental Review
  Funding Restrictions
  Other Submission Requirements
APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION
  Criteria
  Review and Selection Process
  Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates
AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION
  Award Notices
  Administrative and National Policy Requirements
  Reporting
AGENCY CONTACTS
Access Standard STAR Forms and Instructions  http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/
View research awarded under previous solicitations   http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/archive/grants/

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

Synopsis of Program

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, is seeking proposals from researchers in economics, business administration, law, decision sciences, and other social sciences to address issues associated with environmental information disclosure. Researchers are invited to identify how environmental information obtained through information disclosure rules and voluntary programs is used and by whom, the consequences such use has on behavior, and the resulting changes in environmental performance (e.g., discharges, emissions or exposure). Primarily, EPA wants to better understand how required disclosure of environmental information about contaminants in drinking water, toxic releases or residues, chemical or oil spills, emissions, discharges, waste storage and disposal, potential liabilities, toxicity, or recycling and reuse of chemicals influences environmental behavior, practices and performance at the level of facilities, firms, markets, communities or state regulatory and enforcement agencies. Secondarily, EPA is interested in the effects of voluntary information provision on firm or facility environmental performance, profitability, reduced transaction costs, increased market share, enforcement costs, etc.

Award Information
Anticipated Type of Award: Grant
Estimated Number of Awards: Approximately 3 – 6 awards
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $1 million – $1.5 million
Potential Funding per Grant: Up to a maximum of $400,000 over 2 or 3 years, including direct and indirect costs. Cost sharing is not required but is encouraged. Proposals with budgets exceeding the total award limits will not be considered.

Eligibility Information
Institutions of higher education and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and Tribal, state and local governments are eligible to apply. See full announcement for more details.

Application Materials:
The necessary forms for submitting a STAR application will be found on the NCER web site, http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/.

Contact Person: Matthew Clark, Ph.D. Phone: 202-343-9807; email:clark.matthew@epa.gov

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

Introduction

In EPA’s recently completed Environmental Economics Research Strategy (USEPA 2004; EPA/600/R-04/195), one of the highest priority research areas is determination of the benefits of environmental information disclosure. EPA currently administers two major environmental information disclosure programs, the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) provisions of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986, and the Consumer Confidence Reports (CCR) required by the 1996 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). A number of states have similar “right-to-know” programs that provide information about hazardous substances to communities, workers and emergency responders.

The TRI program requires facilities to report their releases and other waste management activities (e.g., recycling, treatment, and energy recovery) related to each of a specific list of toxic chemicals over a threshold amount annually. The CCR program requires drinking water suppliers to analyze the contents of the water they supply and report their findings each year to consumers. In addition to these two disclosure programs, EPA and state environmental agencies participate in other types of programs based on voluntary environmental information provision, such as beach closings, certifications, awards, labels, and others.

Consumers, investors and researchers are familiar with information disclosure requirements designed to improve health and safety such as the Food and Drug Administration’s food labeling requirements, or corporate responsibility like the Securities and Exchange Commission’s content requirements for prospectuses and annual reports of publicly traded companies or bond sellers. The effectiveness of environmental information disclosure, which can affect both health and investment security, has not been fully investigated to date.

Past solicitations in the area of Corporate Environmental Behavior/Performance and the Effectiveness of Government Interventions, Market Mechanisms and Incentives, and Decision Making and Valuation for Environmental Protection have supported several studies on the effect of information disclosure and information provision programs on environmental performance and behavior. Information regarding prior grants can be found on ORD’s National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) webpage: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/grants.

Background

Environmental information provides a potentially important set of environmental management tools, alone or in combination with other policy instruments. However, relatively little conclusive economic or business research, particularly quantitative empirical research, has been conducted into the effectiveness of disclosing environmental information for achieving environmental policy goals. A number of EPA, state and international environmental, consumer, or investor protection programs employ information disclosure (information required from the regulated community, e.g., TRI, Consumer Confidence Reports) or information provision (labels, beach advisories, fish advisories, etc.).

There is no generally accepted method to estimate or quantify the purported benefits of environmental information disclosure such as more cost-effective decreases in pollution or health risks. Anecdotal and other evidence suggests that companies, facilities or potentially exposed populations may alter their behavior following information announcements. Business may change production practices, and consumers may adopt averting behaviors. These behavioral changes can affect exposure as well as production costs, liability and product prices. Other measures address changes in firm or market behavior (See Hamilton, 1995; Khanna et al., 1998).

The first objective of this RFA is to obtain research results that will describe how specific classes of users of disclosed environmental information, for example, facilities, firms, communities, consumers or state and federal regulators, use the information and how this information changes behavior. Researchers should investigate how behavioral changes create benefits to the public or businesses in the form of reduced pollution, reduced exposure to toxins, improved profitability, reduced costs, or other measures of benefits. EPA is not soliciting research to provide information to revise a specific EPA program but is interested in analyses that will improve general understanding of how information disclosure programs work.

A second objective is to address how environmental information provided voluntarily by businesses or how government advisories, e.g., fish consumption advisories, beach advisories or drinking water advisories change behavior and how this change creates benefits. For this solicitation, EPA is not interested in the general effectiveness of voluntary environmental programs, but only the role that environmental information program elements play in altering behavior and environmental performance such as reduced air emissions or water pollution.

EPA also is interested in understanding how environmental information disclosure or provision may reduce the costs of achieving specific improvements in environmental performance in contrast to other environmental policy approaches. Finally, EPA is interested in understanding how information programs can be integrated optimally into a comprehensive framework for environmental management that includes regulations and/or economic incentives.

Specific Areas of Interest

To improve understanding of the effectiveness of environmental information disclosure as a policy instrument, EPA encourages proposals for innovative investigations that are both theoretically sound and empirically rigorous that will identify performance improvements or impacts that can be attributed to environmental information. To improve the design and application of environmental information programs, it is important to understand who uses information, how information changes behavior and how behavioral changes are translated into improved environmental performance or financial conditions. It is particularly important to develop research that identifies accurate ways to measure changes in both behavior and environmental performance traceable to the disclosure or provision of environmental information. Research proposals should describe clearly the types of behavioral, environmental performance or financial changes they will measure and the metrics they will use to estimate and quantify the targeted changes.

Because there are no widely accepted approaches for estimating the benefits of information disclosure, this solicitation is seeking answers to several basic relevant research questions in the following areas:

  1. Behavioral Change
    1. Are public entities affecting behavior by requiring disclosure of information or providing this information once it is disclosed?
    2. If so, whose behavior is affected and how does it affect environmental quality?
    3. What is the most appropriate way to measure and quantify behavioral changes?
  2. Program Improvement
    1. If behavior is being changed, how can information disclosure programs modify the content or dissemination of environmental information to further improve environmental behavior and performance?
    2. Are there information program design elements that can improve the dissemination, understanding or effectiveness of information announcements?
  3. Objective Achievement
    1. Are environmental information disclosure programs making progress toward achieving their stated objectives?
    2. Are such programs achieving unanticipated benefits apart from their original objectives ?
    3. Do the combined expected and unanticipated benefits exceed information collection costs?
    4. Are there important hard-to-quantify reasons for disclosing information, such as transparency, informed consent, reduced market information and transaction costs?

Types of potential impacts/benefits to be estimated may include:

  • Increased efficiency at the plant or firm level because environmental information disclosure provides managers with improved understanding of production processes, operations and potential liabilities;
  • Increased financial market efficiency because potential environmental liabilities are revealed and internalized through insurance markets and securities’ price changes to reflect risk perceptions (e.g., TRI effects on stock prices);
  • Reduced costs at state or federal regulatory agencies, facilities or firms (e.g., reduced releases = reduced violations = reduced regulatory transaction costs) as a result of improved allocation of enforcement and compliance resources;
  • Increased welfare at the community level because exposed people take actions to reduce or avoid exposure to toxins or contaminants revealed in environmental disclosure reports;
  • Altered consumer behavior in response to public warnings such as fish advisories, beach advisories, drinking water advisories;
  • Altered consumer behavior in response to labeling on pesticides and consumer products, e.g., EnergyStar labels, ISO Certification, Green Energy;

Examples of more specific research questions include:

  • Are potential cost savings identified when environmental information disclosure is made or about to be made? Where are such cost savings realized - in government agencies, communities, markets or at firms/facilities? Why would such savings occur? How can such savings be measured? What is the counter-factual condition to which the purported savings are being compared?
  • How are the benefits of disclosed information linked to the amount or toxicity of pollutant? For example, a corollary about food is that the value of information about fat content is not strictly correlated with the amount of fat.
  • How can benefits of disclosed information in one situation be transferred to another?
  • Could or should required financial disclosures more clearly reveal potential environmental liabilities? In what form? How would this change behavior? What benefits would accrue from the anticipated behavioral change? What would be the incremental costs of collecting and publishing this information?
  • How effective are other information provision programs – labels, awards, publicity campaigns (EnergyStar) under different circumstances, e.g., during downswings in the economic cycle?
Desirable Characteristics of Proposals:

Applicants should state clearly whether their research project is focusing on: (1) environmental information disclosure that is required by law or regulation, (2) environmental information voluntarily provided by firms or facilities or (3) environmental information provided by government agencies through advisories, warnings or labels. Applications should identify the specific behavioral changes to be evaluated, the theoretical basis for the research, the hypotheses to be tested, the methods and data that will be employed to test the hypotheses, and the limitations of the data, approaches and resulting empirical estimates. EPA is particularly interested in the development and empirical testing of methods to estimate the benefits of environmental information disclosure. The quality and applicability of research results will depend on the validity of the analytical methods employed. In this relatively undeveloped area of multidisciplinary research, EPA welcomes proposals using any of a number of widely accepted social science research methods. Such research methods include:

  • Case studies
  • Statistical analyses: longitudinal, cross-sectional or panel data studies
  • Surveys
  • Experimental methods
  • Marketing analyses
  • Mathematical programming or simulation models
  • Other approaches

The analytical approach selected must be appropriate for the data used and hypotheses to be tested. Applicants are encouraged to include an empirical component in their research.

Note: This RFA only is addressing aspects of behavioral changes associated with environmental information provision or disclosure. It is not requesting research on the marginal value of additional information to support decisions, i.e., EPA is not trying to answer the question, “Are the benefits of acquiring additional information to support decisions worth its cost?” There is already a substantial economics and decision science literature in that area (see Herschleifer 1972; Stokey and Zeckhauser 1978; Raiffa 1997).

References
Hamilton, James T. 1995. "Pollution as News: Media and Stock Market Reactions to the Toxics Release Inventory Data," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Vol. 28,1: 98-113

Herschleifer, Jack. 1971. “The private and social value of information and the reward to inventive activity.” American Economic Review 61:561-574

Khanna, Madhu, Wilma Rose H. Quimio and Dora Bojilova 1998. Toxics Release Information: A Policy Tool for Environmental Protection. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 36,3: 243-266

Raiffa, Howard. 1997. Decision Analysis McGraw-Hill. New York.

Stokey, Edith and Richard Zeckhauser. 1978. A Primer for Policy Analysis WW Norton & Co. New York

USEPA. 2003. How are Toxics Release Inventory Data Used? EPA/260/R-002/004 May 2203. http://www.epa.gov/tri/guide_docs/2003_datausepaper.pdf (PDF, 67 pp., 790.64 KB) (about PDF)

Special Requirements: Data and Model Availability

The application must include a plan to make available all data and models developed under a grant awarded in this program in a format and with documentation such that others in the scientific community may readily use them (see Other Submission Requirements, below).

CONTACT PERSONS

Dr. Matthew Clark Phone: 202-343-9807 email: clark.matthew@epa.gov

Authority and Regulations The authority for this RFA and resulting awards is contained in the Clean Air Act, Section 103, as amended, Public Law 95-95, 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq. and the Clean Water Act, Section 104, as amended, Public Law 95-217, 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.

AWARD INFORMATION

FUNDING

EPA anticipates making approximately three to six awards. The projected range is from $50,000 to $200,000 per award per year, with durations from one to three years. Field experiments, survey research, and multi-investigator projects may justify the higher funding level. Awards made through this competition will depend on the availability of funds. Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $400,000, including both direct and indirect costs, will not be considered.

ELIGIBILITY

Eligible Applicants

Institutions of higher education and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and Tribal, state and local governments are eligible to apply. Universities and educational institutions must be subject to OMB Circular A-21. Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive grants from EPA under this program.

Eligible nonprofit organizations include any organizations that meet the definition of nonprofit in OMB Circular A-122. However, nonprofit organizations described in Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code that engage in lobbying activities as defined in Section 3 of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 are not eligible to apply.

National laboratories funded by federal agencies (Federally-funded Research and Development Centers, “FFRDCs”) may not apply. FFRDC employees may cooperate or collaborate with eligible applicants within the limits imposed by applicable legislation and regulations. They may participate in planning, conducting, and analyzing the research directed by the principal investigator, but may not direct projects on behalf of the applicant organization or principal investigator. The principal investigator's institution, organization, or governance may provide funds through its grant from EPA to a FFRDC for research personnel, supplies, equipment, and other expenses directly related to the research. However, salaries for permanent FFRDC employees may not be provided through this mechanism.

Federal agencies may not apply. Federal employees are not eligible to serve in a principal leadership role on a grant, and may not receive salaries or in other ways augment their agency's appropriations through grants made by this program. Nonetheless, federal employees may interact with grantees so long as their involvement is not essential to achieving the basic goals of the grant. EPA encourages interaction between its own laboratory scientists and grant principal investigators for the sole purpose of exchanging information in research areas of common interest that may add value to their respective research activities. This interaction must be incidental to achieving the goals of the research under a grant. Interaction that is “incidental” does not involve resource commitments.

The principal investigator’s institution may enter into an agreement with a federal agency to purchase or utilize unique supplies or services unavailable in the private sector. Examples are purchase of satellite data, census data tapes, chemical reference standards, analyses, or use of instrumentation or other facilities not available elsewhere. A written justification for federal involvement must be included in the application, along with an assurance from the federal agency involved which commits it to supply the specified service.

Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact Tom Barnwell in NCER, phone 202-343-9862, email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov.

Cost Sharing

Institutional cost-sharing is not required and, therefore, does not have to be included in the budget table. However, if the applicant intends to cost-share, a brief statement concerning cost-sharing should be added to the budget justification, and estimated dollar amounts must be included in the appropriate categories in the budget table.

APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

Address to Request Application Package

Application forms and instructions for applying can be found on the NCER web site at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/.

Content and Format of Pre-application Package

The initial application is made through submission of the materials described below. It is essential that the application contain all information requested and be submitted in the formats described. Noncompliance with formatting instructions (page limits, font size, etc.) is grounds for administrative dismissal. Please note that if an application is being considered for an award (i.e., after external peer review and internal review), additional forms and other information will be requested by the EPA Project Officer. The application must contain the following:

A. Standard Form 424 : The applicant must complete SF424. This form will be the first page of the application. Instructions for completion of the SF424 are included with the form. The form must contain the original signature of an authorized representative of the applying institution. Please note that both the Principal Investigator and an administrative contact are to be identified in Section 5 of the SF424.

Regarding Block 16 of the SF 424: research funded under this program may be eligible under E.O. 12372, “Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs,” if it affects public health or if an environmental impact statement is required. If applicable, an applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her State for more information on the process the State requires to be followed in applying for assistance, if the State has selected the program for review.

B. Key Contacts : The applicant must complete the Key Contacts Form (NCER Form 1) as the second page of the application. The Key Contacts Form and a continuation page is available at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms. A copy of this form should also be completed for major sub-agreements (contacts at the institutions of primary co-investigators). Please make certain that all contact information is accurate. An e-mail will be sent by NCER (from receipt.application@epa.gov; e-mails to this address are not accepted) to the Principal Investigator (with a copy to the Administrative Contact) to acknowledge receipt of the application and to transmit other important information. If an e-mail acknowledgment has not been received within 30 days of the submission deadline, then immediately contact the project officer listed under "Contacts" in this solicitation. Please note: Due to often lengthy delays in delivery, it is especially important that you monitor NCER confirmation of receipt of your application when using regular mail.

C. Table of Contents: Provide a list of the major subdivisions of the application indicating the page number on which each section begins.

D. Abstract: The abstract is a very important document. All abstracts are provided to the peer review panelists, and some of the panelists may read only the abstract. Abstracts also play a critical role in programmatic review (see “Application Review Information”). Therefore, it is critical that the abstract accurately describe the research being proposed and convey all the essential elements of the research. Also, the abstracts of applications that receive funding will be posted on the NCER web site.

The abstract, limited to one page, should include the information indicated in the example format ( http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms) and described below (1-8). Examples of abstracts for current grants may be found on the NCER web site.

1. Research Category and Sorting Code: Enter the full name of the solicitation under which your application is submitted and the code that corresponds to the appropriate RFA topic.

2. Title: Use the exact title of your project as it appears in the application. The title must be brief, yet represent the major thrust of the project. Because the title will be used by those not familiar with the project, strike a balance between highly technical words and phrases and more commonly understood terminology. Do not use phrases such as “research on.”

3. Investigators: List the Principal Investigator, then the names and affiliations of each co-investigator who will significantly contribute to the project. Provide a web site URL or an E-Mail contact address for additional information.

4. Institution: In the same order as the list of investigators, list the name and city/state of each participating university or other applicant institution. The institution applying for assistance must be clearly identified.

5. Project Period: Show the proposed project beginning and ending dates.

6. Project Cost: Show the total dollar request, including direct and indirect costs, to the EPA for all grant years (the entire project period).

7. Project Summary: Provide three subsections addressing: (a) the objectives of the study (including any hypotheses that will be tested), (b) the experimental approach to be used (a description of the project proposed ), and (c) the expected results of the project and how it addresses the research needs identified in the solicitation, including the estimated improvement in risk assessment or risk management that will result from successful completion of the proposed work.

8. Supplemental Keywords: Supply keywords to assist database searchers in finding your research, without duplicating terms already used in the text of the abstract. A complete set of keywords is very important. A list of suggested keywords will be found at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms.

E. Research Plan and Quality Assurance Statement

Research Plan:

Applications should be focused on a limited number of research objectives that can be adequately and clearly demonstrated to meet the RFA requirements. Explicitly state the main hypotheses that you will investigate, the data you will create or use, the analytical tools you will use to investigate these hypotheses or analyze these data, and the results you expect to achieve. Research methods must be clearly stated so that the reviewers can evaluate the appropriateness of your approach and the tools you intend to use. The statement: “we will evaluate the data using the usual statistical methods” is not specific enough for peer reviewers.

This description must not exceed fifteen (15) consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced, standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins. The description must provide the following information:

1. Objectives: List the objectives of the proposed research and the hypotheses being tested during the project, and briefly state why the intended research is important. This section should also include any background or introductory information that would help explain the objectives of the study. If this application is for continuation of research supported by an existing or former grant awarded under the STAR program, indicate the number of the grant and provide a brief report of progress and results achieved under that grant (one to two pages recommended).

2. Approach: Outline the research design, methods, and techniques that you intend to use in meeting the objectives stated above (five to 10 pages recommended).

3. Expected Results or Benefits: Describe the results you expect to achieve during the project and the benefits of the results. This section should also discuss how the research results will lead to solutions to environmental problems and improve the public’s ability to protect the environment and human health. A clear, concise description will help NCER understand the merits of the research (one to two pages recommended) .

4. General Project Information: Discuss other information relevant to the potential success of the project. This should include facilities, personnel, project schedules, proposed management, interactions with other institutions, etc. Applications for multi-investigator projects must identify project management and the functions of each investigator within a team and describe plans for communication and sharing of data (one to two pages recommended).

5. Important Attachments:

References cited are in addition to the 15-page Research Plan limit.

Letters of intention that are limited to one brief paragraph merely assuring commitment of a resource (e.g., use of a person’s time or equipment) not under the control of the applicant institution may be included and are in addition to the 15 pages.

Letters of intention that exceed one brief paragraph will be considered a part of the appendix.

Appendices may be included but must remain within the 15-page limit.

Quality Assurance Statement (two pages in addition to the 15-page research plan):

For any project involving data collection or processing, conducting surveys, environmental measurements, modeling, or the development of environmental technology (whether hardware-based or via new techniques) for pollution control, provide a Statement on processes that will be used to assure that results of the research satisfy the intended project objectives. EPA is particularly interested in the quality controls for data generation and acquisition, and how data validation and usability will be verified. The Statement must describe a system that complies with ANSI/ASQC E4, Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology Programs, and must not exceed two consecutively numbered, 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced, standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins.

For each item below, either present the required information, reference the specific location of the information in the Research Plan, or provide a justification of why the item does not apply to the proposed research.

1. Identify the individual who will be responsible for the quality assurance and quality control aspects of the research. [Quality assurance (QA) is an integrated system of management activities involving planning, implementation, documentation, assessment, and improvement to ensure that a process, or item is of the type and quality needed for the project. Quality control (QC) is the system of technical activities that measures the attributes and performance of a process or item against defined standards, to verify that they meet the stated requirements.]

2. Discuss the activities to be performed or the hypothesis to be tested and criteria for determining acceptable data quality. (Note: Such criteria may be expressed in terms of precision, accuracy, representativeness, completeness, and comparability or in terms of data quality objectives or acceptance and evaluation criteria.) Also, these criteria must be applied to determine the acceptability of existing, or “secondary,” data to be used in the project. (In this context, secondary data may be defined as data previously collected for other purposes or from other sources.)

3. Describe the study design. Include sample type(s) and location requirements, all statistical analyses that were or will be used to estimate the types and numbers of physical samples required, or equivalent information for studies using survey and interview techniques, or describe how new technology will be benchmarked to improve existing processes, such as those used by industry.

4. Describe the procedures that will be used in the calibration and performance evaluation of all analytical instrumentation and all methods of analysis to be used during the project. Explain how the effectiveness of any new technology will be measured.

5. Describe the procedures for the handling and custody of samples, including sample collection, identification, preservation, transportation, and storage, or how the accuracy of test measurements will be verified.

6. Discuss the procedures for data reduction and reporting, including a description of all statistical methods to make inferences and conclusions, with identification of any statistical software to be used; discuss any computer models to be designed or utilized and describe the associated verification and validation techniques.

7. Describe the quantitative and/or qualitative procedures that will be used to evaluate the success of the project, including any plans for peer or other reviews of the study design or analytical methods prior to data collection.

ANSI/ASQC E4, Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology Programs, is available for purchase from the American Society for Quality, phone 1-800-248-1946, item T55. Only in exceptional circumstances should it be necessary to consult this document. An EPA guidance document, Guidance on Satisfying EPA Quality System Requirements for STAR Grants (EPA QA/G-1STAR) is available for potential applicants and addresses in detail how to comply with ANSI/ASQC E4 for STAR grants. This may be found on the Internet at http://www.epa.gov/ncer under “Guidance and FAQs.”

Congress, through OMB, has instructed each agency to implement Information Quality Guidelines designed to “provide policy and procedural guidance...for ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information, including statistical information, disseminated by Federal agencies.” EPA’s implementation may be found at http://www.epa.gov/quality/informationguidelines/. These procedures may apply to data generated by grant recipients if those data are disseminated as described in the Guidelines.

Page allowances for the following sections are in addition to those allowed for the Research Plan and Quality Assurance Statement.

F. Budget and Budget Justification :

Budget :

Prepare a budget table using the guidance and format found at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/, select “All required forms.” If a sub-agreement, such as a subcontract, is included in the application, provide a separate budget for the subcontract in the same format if the sub-agreement is greater than $25K. Include the total amount for the sub-agreement under “Contracts” in the master budget. Any project containing sub-agreements that constitute more than 40% of the total direct cost of the grant will be subject to special review. Additional justification for use of such a subcontract must be provided, discussing the need for this agreement to accomplish the objectives of the research project.

Please note that institutional cost-sharing is not required. However, if you intend to cost-share, a brief statement concerning cost-sharing should be added to the budget justification, and estimated dollar amounts must be included in the appropriate categories in the budget table.

Budget Justification:

Describe the basis for calculating the personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, and other costs identified in the itemized budget and explain the basis for their calculation. (Special attention should be given to explaining the “travel,” “equipment,” and “other” categories.) The budget justification should not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced, standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins.

Budget information should be supported at the level of detail described below.

1. Personnel: List all staff positions by title. Give annual salary, percentage of time assigned to the project, and total cost for the budget period.

2. Fringe Benefits: Identify the percentage used and the basis for its computation.

3. Travel: Specify the estimated number of trips and locations, and other costs for each type of travel. Explain the need for any travel outside the United States. Include travel funds for annual STAR program progress reviews and a final workshop to report on results.

4. Equipment: Identify computers, and each item to be purchased which has an estimated cost of $5,000 or more per unit and a useful life of more than one year. (Items with a unit cost of less than $5,000 are considered supplies, per regulation.)

5. Supplies: “Supplies” means all tangible property other than “equipment.” Identify categories of supplies to be procured (e.g., laboratory supplies or office supplies).

6. Contractual: Identify each proposed sub-agreement (grant or contract) and specify its purpose and estimated cost. Sub-agreements more than $25K should have a separate itemized budget included as part of the application.

7. Other: List each item in sufficient detail for the EPA to determine the reasonableness of its cost relative to the research to be undertaken.

8. Indirect Charges: If indirect charges are included in the budget, indicate the approved rate and base with an explanation of how indirect costs were calculated.

G. Resumes and Current and Pending Support

Resumes: Provide the resumes of all principal investigators and important co-workers. The resume for each individual must not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced, standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins.

Current and Pending Support: Identify any current and pending financial resources that are intended to support research related to the proposal or which would consume the time of principal investigators. Provide information on current and pending support in the format provided at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms for each investigator and other important co-workers.

H. Guidelines, Limitations, and Additional Requirements

Confidentiality

By submitting an application in response to this solicitation, the applicant grants EPA permission to make limited disclosures of the application to technical reviewers both within and outside the Agency for the express purpose of assisting the Agency with evaluating the application. Information from a pending or unsuccessful application will be kept confidential to the fullest extent allowed under law; information from a successful application may be publicly disclosed.

Sorting Code

At various places within the application, applicants are asked to identify the sorting code corresponding to their proposed research topic area in the solicitation. It is the responsibility of the applicant to identify the proper sorting code, based on the nature of the proposed research. Failure to do so could result in an inappropriate peer review assignment. If your research seems to fit under more than one sorting code, choose the most appropriate one.

The sorting code must be placed at the top of the abstract (location is shown in the abstract format, http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms), in Box 10 of Standard Form 424, and in the address on the package that is sent to the EPA (see below). Each application submitted must fall under one topic area only, using a single sorting code. Applications submitted for more than one topic area will be assigned to the topic designated on the first version received, or to the first sorting code shown on the application.

Submission Dates and Times

The original and eight (8) copies of the complete application (9 in all) and one (1) additional copy of the abstract, must be received by NCER no later than 4:00 P.M. Eastern Time on the closing date assigned to this topic area. The following is the schedule for this RFA. It should be noted that this schedule may be changed without prior notification due to factors that were not anticipated at the time of announcement. In the case of a change in the required receipt date, the new date will be posted on the NCER website.

Application Receipt Date: April 13, 2005, 4:00 p.m. E.S.T.

Earliest Anticipated Start Date: November 1, 2005

To be considered timely, applications and initial proposals must be received by the Agency on or before the deadline date published in the RFA. Applications received after the published deadline or applications that deviate from the prescribed format will be returned to the sender without further consideration. Also, applications exceeding the funding limits described in the RFA will be returned without review.

Intergovernmental Review

Research funded under this program may be eligible under E.O. 12372, “Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs,” if it affects public health or if an environmental impact statement is required. If applicable, an applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her State for more information on the process the State requires to be followed in applying for assistance, if the State has selected the program for review. The names and addresses of the State’s single point of contact are listed in the OMB home page at
http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants/spoc.html exit EPA

Funding Restrictions

The funding mechanism for all awards issued under STAR solicitations will consist of assistance agreements from the EPA. All award decisions are subject to the availability of funds. In accordance with Public Law 95-224, the primary purpose of a grant is to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by Federal statute, rather than acquisition for the direct benefit or use of the Agency. In issuing a grant agreement, the EPA anticipates that there will be no substantial EPA involvement in the design, implementation, or conduct of the research. However, the EPA will monitor research progress through annual reports provided by grantees and other contacts, including site visits, with the Principal Investigator.

If you wish to submit applications for more than one STAR RFA, you must ensure that the research proposed in each is significantly different from any other that has been submitted to the EPA or from any other grant you are currently receiving from the EPA or another federal government agency.

Collaborative applications involving more than one institution must be submitted as a single administrative package from one of the institutions involved.

Other Submission Requirements

Special Requirements: Data and Model Availability

The application must include a plan to make available all data (including primary and secondary data) from observations, analyses, or model development under a grant awarded in this program in a format and with documentation such that others in the scientific community may readily use them. The data must be made available to the project officer in a standard exchange format without restriction and be accompanied by comprehensive meta-data documentation adequate for specialists and non-specialists alike to be able to understand how and where the data were obtained and to evaluate the quality of the data. Applicants who develop databases containing proprietary or restricted information should provide a strategy, not to exceed two pages, to make the data widely available to researchers, while protecting privacy or property rights. These pages are in addition to the 15 pages permitted for the project description.

The application and abstract must be prepared in accordance with these instructions. Informal, incomplete, or unsigned applications will be returned without review. The original, signed copy of the application must not be bound or stapled in any way. The other eight (8) required copies of the application should be secured with paper or binder clips or secure staples.

Because of security concerns, applications cannot be personally delivered. They must be sent through regular mail, express mail, or a major courier.

The following address must be used for regular mail:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8725F)
Sorting Code: 2005-STAR-G1
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20460

The following address must be used for express mail and couriers:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8725F)
Sorting Code: 2005-STAR-G1
1025 F Street, NW (Room 3500)
Washington, DC 20004
Phone: (202) 233-0686

APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION

Criteria

Consideration of an application’s merit is based on the following criteria: All else being equal, proposals that consider multiple environmental benefits will be ranked higher than those that consider only single benefits, and proposals that involve an interdisciplinary team of researchers will be ranked higher than those that include only a single discipline. These criteria are listed in descending order of importance.

1. The originality and creativity of the proposed research, the appropriateness and adequacy of the research methods proposed, and of the Quality Assurance Statement. Is the research approach practical and technically defensible, and can the project be performed within the proposed time period? Will the research contribute to scientific knowledge in the topic area? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society? Is the proposal well-prepared with supportive information that is self-explanatory or understandable?

2. The qualifications of the principal investigator(s) and other key personnel, including research training, demonstrated knowledge of pertinent literature, experience, and publication records. Will all key personnel make a significant time commitment to the project?

3. The responsiveness of the proposal to the research needs identified for the topic area. Does the proposal adequately address the objectives specified by the EPA for this topic area?

4. The availability and/or adequacy of the facilities and equipment proposed for the project. Are there any deficiencies that may interfere with the successful completion of the research?

5. Although budget information does not reflect on the application’s scientific merit, the reviewers are asked to provide their view on the appropriateness and/or adequacy of the proposed budget and its implications for the potential success of the proposed research. Input on requested equipment is of particular interest.

Review and Selection Process

All grant applications are reviewed by an appropriate external technical peer review panel. In general, each peer review group is composed of non-EPA scientists, engineers, social scientists, and/or economists who are experts in their respective disciplines and are proficient in the technical subjects they are reviewing. Reviewers are asked to assign a summary score of either excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor to each application. This review is designed to evaluate each proposal according to its scientific merit.

Applications that receive scores of excellent and very good from the peer reviewers are subjected to a programmatic review within the EPA to assure a balanced research portfolio for the Agency. The programmatic review considers the relevance of the proposed science to EPA research priorities, program balance, budget, and available funds. Final funding decisions are made by the NCER Director. Selected applicants will be required to provide additional information and the application will be forwarded to the grants administration office for award in accordance with the EPA’s procedures.

Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

The following is the schedule for this RFA. Please note that this schedule may be changed without notification due to factors that were not anticipated at the time of announcement.

Application Receipt Date: April 13, 2005
Earliest Anticipated Start Date: November 1, 2005

AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

Award Notices

Customarily, applicants are notified about award decisions within six months of the application deadline. A summary statement of the scientific review by the peer panel will be provided to each applicant with the award or declination letter. After selection for award, applicants recommended for funding will be required to submit additional certifications and an electronic version of the revised project abstract, and may be requested to provide responses to comments or suggestions offered by the peer reviewers, a revised budget, and/or to resubmit their proposal. EPA Project Officers will contact Principal Investigators to obtain these materials. The official notification of an award will be made by the Agency’s Grants Administration Division. Before or after an award, certain applicants will be expected to provide additional quality assurance documentation.

Administrative and Policy Requirements

Expectations and responsibilities of NCER grantees are summarized in this section; see http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance for full terms and conditions associated with an award, including what activities require prior approval from the EPA.

A. Meetings: Principal Investigators will be expected to budget for, and participate in, periodic All-Investigators Meetings (also known as progress reviews) approximately once per year with EPA scientists and other grantees to report on research activities and to discuss issues of mutual interest.

B. Approval of Changes after Award: Prior written approval is required from the EPA if there is to be significant change in the research that deviates markedly from work described in the application. Examples of these changes are contained in 40 C.F.R. 30.25. Prior written approval is also required from the EPA for incurring costs greater than 90 calendar days prior to award.

C. Human Subjects: A grant recipient must agree to meet all EPA requirements for studies using human subjects prior to implementing any work with these subjects. These requirements are given in 40 C.F.R. 26, referred to as the “Common Rule.” No work involving human subjects, including recruiting, may be initiated before the EPA has received a copy of the applicant’s Institutional Review Board’s (IRB) approval of the project and the EPA has also provided approval. Where human subjects are involved in the research, the recipient must provide evidence of subsequent IRB reviews, including amendments or minor changes of protocol, as part of annual reports.

D. Animal Welfare: A grant recipient must agree to comply with the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 (P.L. 89-554), as amended. All projects involving vertebrate animals must have approval from the applying organization’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee before issuance of an EPA grant.

E. Data Access and Information Release: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-110 has been revised to provide public access to research data through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) under some circumstances. Data that are (1) first produced in a project that is supported in whole or in part with Federal funds and (2) cited publicly and officially by a Federal agency in support of an action that has the force and effect of law (i.e., a regulation) may be accessed through FOIA. All data sets, models, and databases developed under STAR grants may become accessible to the public and therefore freely available to all researchers. If such data are requested by the public, the EPA must ask for it, and the grantee must submit it, in accordance with A-110 and EPA regulations at 40 C.F.R. 30.36.

Reporting

A grant recipient must agree to provide annual progress reports with associated summaries for posting on NCER’s web site, and a final report with an executive summary for web posting.

A grant recipient must agree to provide copies of any peer reviewed journal article(s) resulting from the research during the project period. In addition, the recipient should notify the EPA Project Officer of any papers published after completion of the grant which were based on research supported by the grant. NCER intends to post references to all publications resulting from the grant on the NCER web site.

EPA’s full or partial support should be acknowledged in journal articles, oral or poster presentations, news releases, interviews with reporters and other communications. Any documents developed under the agreement for distribution to the public or inclusion in a scientific, technical, or other journal shall include the following statement:

This publication [article] was developed under a STAR Research Assistance Agreement No. __________ awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It has not been formally reviewed by the EPA. The views expressed in this document are solely those of [name of recipient] and the EPA does not endorse any products or commercial services mentioned in this publication.

A graphic that can be converted to a slide or used in other ways, such as on a poster, is located at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/star_images.html . Use of this graphic in oral and poster presentations is expected.

AGENCY CONTACTS

Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the EPA official indicated below. Email inquiries are preferred.

Eligibility Issues: Thomas Barnwell, Ph. 202-343- 9862; email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov
Substantive Issues: Matthew Clark, Ph.D.; Ph: 202-343-9807; email: clark.matthew@epa.gov

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