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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

Issues in Tribal Environmental Research and Health Promotion: Novel Approaches for Assessing and Managing Cumulative Risks and Impacts of Global Climate Change

This is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity.

Funding Opportunity Number:

Methods Development for Cumulative Exposure Assessment EPA-G2007-STAR-C1
Epidemiological Studies of the Cumulative Effects of Environmental Stressors EPA-G2007-STAR-C2
Methods Development for Modeling Health Impacts of Global Climate Change EPA-G2007-STAR-C3
Epidemiological Studies of the Health Effects of Global Climate Change EPA-G2007-STAR-C4

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 66.509

Solicitation Opening Date: September 25, 2006
Solicitation Closing Date: January 23, 2007 4:00 pm Eastern Time

Eligibility Contact: Tom Barnwell (barnwell.thomas@epa.gov); phone: 202-343-9862
Electronic Submissions: Bronda Harrison (harrison.bronda@epa.gov); phone: 202-564-1790
Technical Contact: Nigel Fields (fields.nigel@epa.gov); phone: 202-564-3405

Table of Contents:
SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
Synopsis of Program
Award Information
Eligibility Information
Application Materials
Contact Person(s)
I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION
A. Introduction
B. Background
C. Authority and Regulations
D. Specific Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes
E. References
F. Special Requirements
II. AWARD INFORMATION
III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION
A. Eligible Applicants
B. Cost Sharing
C. Threshold eligibility requirements
D. Other
IV. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION
A. Internet Address to Request Application Package
B. Content and Form of Application Submission
C. Submission Dates and Times
D. Funding Restrictions
E. Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements
V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION
A. Peer Review
B. Programmatic Review
C. Funding Decisions
VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION
A. Award Notices
B. Disputes
C. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Access Standard STAR Forms (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:
There is an increased awareness that subsistence tribal populations may be differentially impacted by two ubiquitous phenomena: (1) cumulative chemical exposures and (2) global climate changes. EPA is interested in supporting community-based participatory research to generate data which identify (a) subsistence resources, (b) sensitive subpopulations within tribal communities, (c) complex chemical exposures from multiple sources and routes, and (d) links between environmental stressors and health outcomes. In addition, EPA is interested in research proposals which develop culturally relevant strategies for exposure mitigation and/or health promotion.

Award Information:
Anticipated Type of Award: Grant or Cooperative Agreement
Estimated Number of Awards:

  1. Methods development projects for documenting and assessing health impacts of cumulative exposures AND/OR the health impacts of climate change: Approximately 3 awards;
  2. Epidemiologic investigations on the health impacts of cumulative exposures AND/OR climate change: Approximately 2 awards.
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $3 million total for all awards
Potential Funding per Grant:
  1. Methods development projects: Up to a total of $330,000, including direct and indirect costs, with a maximum duration of 3 years.
  2. Epidemiologic investigations: Up to a total of $1,000,000, including direct and indirect costs, with a maximum duration of 4 years.
Cost-sharing is not required. Proposals with budgets exceeding the total award limits will not be considered.

Eligibility Information:
Public nonprofit institutions/organizations (includes public institutions of higher education and hospitals) and private nonprofit institutions/organizations (includes private institutions of higher education and hospitals) located in the U.S., state and local governments, Federally Recognized Indian Tribal Governments, and U.S. territories or possessions are eligible to apply. See full announcement for more details.

Application Materials:
You may submit either a paper application or an electronic application (but not both) for this announcement. The necessary forms for submitting a STAR application will be found on the National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) web site, http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/. To apply electronically, you must use the application package available at https://apply.grants.gov/forms_apps_idx.html (see "Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications" in Section IV). If your organization is not currently registered with Grants.gov, you need to allow approximately one week to complete the registration process to apply electronically. This registration, and electronic submission of your application, must be performed by an authorized representative of your organization.

Contact Person(s):
Eligibility Contact: Tom Barnwell (barnwell.thomas@epa.gov); phone: 202-343-9862
Electronic Submissions: Bronda Harrison (harrison.bronda@epa.gov); phone: 202-564-1790
Technical Contact: Nigel Fields (fields.nigel@epa.gov); phone: 202-564-3405

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

A. Introduction
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Research and Development (ORD), National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) invites research grant applications on "Issues in Tribal Environmental Research and Health Promotion: Novel Approaches for Assessing and Managing Cumulative Risks and Impacts of Global Climate Change."

EPA's research programs focus on reduction of risks to human health and ecosystems and on the reduction of uncertainty associated with risk assessment. Through its laboratories and through grants to academic and other not-for-profit institutions, EPA promotes research in both domains, according to the highest priority areas in which risk assessors are most in need of new concepts, methods, models and data. EPA also fosters the development and evaluation of new risk reduction technologies across a spectrum, from pollution prevention to end-of-pipe controls to remediation and monitoring. In all of these areas, EPA is especially interested in groups that may be at particularly high risk. This solicitation is focused on Federally Recognized Tribal populations. Because of their unique lifestyle including subsistence diets, occupations and hobbies, ceremonial customs and other cultural practices and/or environmental releases impacting Tribal land, subsistence tribal populations may be subject to risks that are different from the general population. This focus on Tribes also affirms the Agency's commitment to the government-to-government relationship between the federal government and the tribes, and to the trust responsibility arising from treaties, the historical relationship, statutes, case law, and executive orders.

Under the Global Change Research Act of 1990, the United States Climate Change Science Program (USCCSP) is required to undertake scientific assessments of the potential consequences of global change for the United States (e.g. Patz et al., 2000). EPA is interested in the analysis of health outcomes that may be affected by future global changes and a better understanding of the consequences of global change for human health.

B. Background
There is an increased awareness that subsistence tribal populations may be differentially impacted by two ubiquitous phenomena: (1) cumulative chemical exposures and (2) global climate changes. For the purposes of this solicitation, subsistence is defined as a way of life that incorporates the use of ecosystem resources as a means of obtaining the necessities of life. A subsistence lifestyle may be reflected in the preparation and use of foods, medicines, crafts, tools or ceremonial objects as part of dietary, ritual/cultural and occupational practices. The use of subsistence resources is often based on traditional patterns and knowledge that may be passed down from previous generations. The need to increase capacity within Tribes to assess differential subsistence-based exposures and to estimate impacts on these communities because of chemical and physical changes in the natural environment is clear. EPA is interested in supporting community-based participatory research to generate data which identify (a) subsistence resources, (b) sensitive subpopulations within tribal communities, (c) complex chemical exposures from multiple sources and routes, and (d) links between environmental stressors and health outcomes. In addition, EPA is interested in research proposals which develop culturally relevant strategies for exposure mitigation and/or health promotion.

The specific Strategic Goal, Objective and Sub-objective from EPA's Strategic Plan that relate to this solicitation are:

Goal 4: Healthy Communities and Ecosystems, Objective 4.5: Enhance Science and Research, Sub-objective 4.5.2: Conduct Relevant Research

The EPA's Strategic Plan can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/plan/2003sp.pdf. (PDF, 239pp., 4.75MB, about PDF)

C. Authority and Regulations
The authority for this RFA and resulting awards is contained in the Safe Drinking Water Act, Section 1442, 42 U.S.C. 300j-1; the Toxic Substances Control Act, Section 10, 15 U.S.C. 2609; the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, Section 20, 7 U.S.C. 136r; the Clean Air Act, Section 103, 42 U.S.C. 7404; and the Solid Waste Disposal Act, Section 8001, 42 U.S.C. 6901.

D. Specific Research Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes
Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) is an orientation to research that focuses on relationships between academic and community partners, with principles of co-learning, mutual benefit, and long-term commitment, incorporating community theories, participation, and practices into the research efforts (Wallerstein and Duran, 2006). CBPR in public health is a partnership approach to research that equitably involves, for example, community members, organizational representatives, and researchers in all aspects of the research process, in which all partners contribute expertise and share decision making and responsibilities (Israel et al. 1998, 2003). The aim of CBPR is to increase knowledge and understanding of a given phenomenon and integrate the knowledge gained with interventions and policy change to improve the health and quality of life of community members (Israel et al. 1998, 2003). Applicants must demonstrate tribal engagement and participation in designing the research aims, objectives, and methods and also demonstrate an ability to integrate traditional knowledge and practices in conducting the research. Successful proposals must demonstrate the ability to engage the community of concern in implementing culturally relevant exposure reduction/prevention and/or health promotion strategies.

  1. All project proposals submitted must address one or more of the research areas listed below:

    1. Tribal Cumulative Exposure and Risks from Multiple Environmental Stressors

      The potential for exposures and health risks that are greater than those experienced by the general population may stem from a variety of sources and vary across subsistence tribal populations and geographic regions. For example, they may be the result of increased consumption of fish and game that have high concentrations of harmful chemicals in edible tissues or from direct exposure to chemical residues on plants that are either eaten or used in craft, ceremonial, or occupation situations (e.g., grasses, berries, nuts). Although it is important to understand risks associated with certain practices, it is, perhaps, even more critical to understand the risks derived from the combined or "cumulative" exposure experience associated with concurrent dietary, cultural, and related practices. Additionally, recent studies demonstrate adverse interactive effects of chemical and psycho-social stresses. Therefore, stressors investigated as part of the cumulative risk approach need not be limited to chemical stressors (USEPA, 2003).

      Though subsistence continues to be a time-honed healthy way of life for many indigenous peoples of North America, there has been increasing concern that the introduction of multiple bioaccumulating toxicants within food webs may pose health risks for subsistence-based populations. Frequent exposures to multiple chemicals via multiple routes may in turn result in increased incidence of chemical-related diseases and adverse health conditions. Alternatively, recent data reveal that modern or more Western diets and behaviors also pose adverse health risks to tribal members accustomed to subsistence practices (Williams et al., 2001). Research producing both quantitative and qualitative data on the risks and benefits of subsistence lifestyles for the purpose of developing culturally relevant health promotion strategies is needed.

    2. Impacts of Global Climate Change on the Cultural and Physical Health of Tribal Populations

      Functioning ecosystems produce the materials and services to meet human needs for sustenance, employment, development, and health (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2006), and a well functioning ecosystem requires a high level of biodiversity (Naeem, 2004). Global climate change is thought to be a major cause of biodiversity loss (Sala, 2000) and, therefore, is an important priority issue among subsistence-based tribes of North America. There is increasing evidence that climate change has already resulted in long-term shifts in seasonal weather patterns (e.g. less severe winters and earlier thaws in temperate climates) and consequent water availability (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2006). These effects, in turn, can adversely impact the extent, condition and sustainability of ecosystem services, productivity, and functions that serve basic human needs (Schroter et al., 2005). Subsistence tribal populations may be especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of global climate change, because their lifestyles and cultural practices are intimately tied to their reliance on the use of natural resources. Research is needed to integrate traditional ecological knowledge with the available data on the probability and magnitude of the effects of global climate change on the human health of subsistence populations in order to identify trends and irregularities over changing conditions and at different scales, and to help forecast and reduce risks to health.

      The purpose of this RFA is not to seek development of new models of climate change but to expand the knowledge of actual and potential health impacts of climate change on subsistence tribal populations. Using existing methods, researchers have identified extreme weather conditions, thermal stress, and infectious disease outbreaks as threats to human health resulting from climate change (Patz et al, 2000, 2005, McMichael et al., 2006). However it is more difficult to identify causal pathways and effects arising from climate changes in the food and natural resources (McMichael et al., 2006) upon which subsistence tribal populations are uniquely dependent. There is also increasing evidence and concern that climate warming trends may increase the release or bioavailability of environmental pollutants known to adversely affect human immune, respiratory, neurological and reproductive systems (Booth et al, 2005). Research is needed to better understand the health implications of toxicant stresses resulting from climate change. Examples of relevant research inquires include, but are not limited to the following questions: (a) Beyond infectious disease and extreme weather events, what other climate-health relationships are important to subsistence tribal populations? (b) What cultural and nutritional resources are at risk? (c) What methods can be used to identify the factors that contribute to adverse health impacts on subsistence tribal populations in the context of climate change? (d) What methods can be used to estimate the consequent impacts of changes in pollutant exposures on the health of subsistence tribal populations? (e) What cultural practices or activities might modulate the impact of climate change on health?

  2. Project proposals, regardless of topic or funding level, should include new knowledge and/or data collection in all of the following domains:
    1. Subsistence Resources (e.g., flora and/or fauna within a food web; cultural use patterns of land, water, plant or animal species for tribal hunting, ceremonial or other lifestyle activities)
    2. Subsistence Lifestyle Behaviors and Practices in using resources (e.g. hunting methods, ceremonial traditions, housing conditions)
    3. Chemical Exposure (e.g. total organochlorine exposure profiles, total mercury cycling within food webs)
    4. Differentially Impacted Populations within the community and health outcomes data associated with environmental stressors (e.g. pregnant women, agricultural or industrial workers, hunters, children, elderly)

  3. Risk Communication and Risk Management Approaches

    All project proposals must address the development of approaches to reduce subsistence-based risk, especially those that may not compromise lifestyles to a significant extent. Risk communication and risk management approaches that are generalizable to a number of Tribes or can be adapted to different Tribes are preferable to non-generalizable strategies. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

    • the development of approaches to estimate the distribution of subsistence-based risk within or across subsistence groups and geographic regions including the relative contribution of various practices, (e.g., diet, medicinal, cultural/ceremonial, occupational) to the cumulative exposure
    • the development of methods, which may include educational and/or intervention materials, to reduce risk in subsistence groups
    • the development of culturally sensitive strategies, approaches, and plans that will lead to the reduction of subsistence-based risk

  4. Expected Outputs and Outcomes

    1. Outputs expected from the research funded under this solicitation include:
      • analytical approaches or tools that describe, predict and/or indicate the health outcomes resulting from current trends in cumulative exposures or global climate change on subsistence lifestyles, considering all relevant exposure pathways in Tribal lifestyles, i.e., diet, cultural practice, and occupation
      • risk management strategies and/or interventions to reduce these exposures while preserving Tribal practices and traditions
      • methods and studies to quantify subsistence-based exposures and attendant effects that occur primarily through food, medicinal, cultural/ceremonial and occupational practices
      • models that integrate the data collected on the subsistence activities described above to ascertain/predict the cumulative exposure profile, that is, total exposure through diet, medicinal, cultural/ceremonial, and occupational and other practices, and attendant risks

    2. Desired outcomes include:
      • improved scientific understanding of the magnitude of the effects of cumulative exposures from toxic substances on the health of subsistence tribal populations; and, novel predictive models and exposure data which are used to reduce uncertainty in risk assessment
      • reduction or mitigations of the effects of toxic exposures on subsistence lifestyles through the active involvement of the local Tribal community in risk management and communication
      • improved scientific understanding of the magnitude of the effects of global climate change on the health of subsistence tribal populations; and novel predictive or indicative models which are used to reduce uncertainty in risk assessment
      • reduction or mitigation of the effects of climate change on subsistence lifestyles through the active involvement of the local Tribal community in risk management and communication

E. References

  1. Israel BA, Schulz AJ, Parker EA, Becker AB. Review of community-based research: assessing partnership approaches to improve public health. Annual Review of Public Health (19) 173-202 (1998).
  2. Israel B.A., Schulz A.J., Parker E.A., Becker A.B., Allen A., Guzman J.R. Critical issues in developing and following community-based participatory research principles. In Community-Based Participatory Research for Health (Minkler M, Wallerstein N, eds). San Francisco, CA, 2003
  3. Kruger, L. Community and Landscape change in southeast Alaska. Landscape and Urban Planning (72) 235-249 (2005).
  4. McMichael, A.J., Woodruff, R.E., and Hales, S. Climate Change and Human Health: Present and Future Risks. Lancet (367) 859-69 (2006).
  5. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Island Press, 2005.
  6. Naeem, Shahid. "How biodiversity loss affects the health of ecosystems." February 2004. SciDevNet. http://www.scidev.net/dossiers/index.cfm?fuseaction=policybrief&policy=48&dossier=11 exit EPA
  7. Patz, J.A., Campbell-Lendrum, D., Holloway, T., and Foley, J.A. Impact of Regional Climate Change on Human Health. Nature (438) 310-7 (2005).
  8. Patz, J.A., McGeehin, M.A., Bernard, S.M., Ebi, K.L., Epstein, P.R., Grambsch, A., Gubler, D.J. Reiter, P., Romieu, I., Rose, J.B., Samet, J.M., and Trtanj, J. The Potential Health Impacts of Climate Variability and Change for the United States: Executive Summary of the Report of the Health Sector of the U.S. National Assessment. Environmental Health Perspectives (108) 367-76 (2000).
  9. Sala, O. E. e. al. Global Biodiversity Scenarios for the Year 2100. Science (287) 1770-4 (2000).
  10. Schroter, D. et al. Ecosystem Service Supply and Vulnerability to Global Change in Europe. Science 310 (5752): 1333 - 1337 (2005).
  11. USEPA Framework for Cumulative Risk Assessment, EPA/630/P-02/001F. Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Risk Assessment Forum, 2003.
  12. Wallerstein, N.B. and Duran, B. Using Community-Based Participatory Research to Address Health Disparities. Advanced publication. Health Promotion Practice. June 2006.
  13. Wiliams, D.E., Knowler, W.C., Smith, C.J., Hanson, R.L., Roumain, J., Saremi, A., Kriska, A.M. Bennett, and P.H., Nelson, R.G.. The effect of Indian or Anglo dietary preference on the incidence of diabetes in Pima Indians. Diabetes Care 25 (5), 811-816. (2001).

F. Special Requirements
Agency policy prevents EPA technical staff and managers from providing individual applicants information that may create an unfair competitive advantage. Consequently, EPA employees will not review, comment, advise, provide technical assistance to applicants preparing applications in response to EPA RFAs, endorse an application or discuss in any manner how the Agency will apply the published evaluation criteria for this competition.

Groups of two or more eligible applicants may choose to form a consortium and submit a single application for this assistance agreement. The application must identify which organization will be the recipient of the assistance agreement and which organizations(s) will be subawardees of the recipient. Proposed budgets should reflect adequate sharing of in-kind resources and funding between research partners. Proposals that have received Tribal resolutions are highly encouraged, although not required.

  1. Data Collection and Funding Levels
    This solicitation will support research at two different levels of data collection and analysis:

    1. Methods development: Recognizing the need to both stimulate new investigations and to support the formation of environmental health research and health promotion partnerships, applications may be submitted as initiating/exploratory or methods development grants for up to three years of support at $330,000 total costs. Successful proposals will address the development of analytical tools and predictive/indicative models to explore the effects of cumulative exposures or the impacts of global climate change.
    2. Epidemiology research: Applications demonstrating solid, tribal-academic-health practitioner partnerships seeking to collect and analyze detailed biological, environmental or epidemiological data may be submitted as hypothesis/observationally driven investigations, for up to four years of support at $1,000,000 total costs. The primary focus of these epidemiology studies should be health outcomes. Successful applicants will investigate relationships between multiple environmental stressors and health outcomes OR investigate potential links between climate change and the health and wellness of subsistence tribal populations

  2. Summary of Research Theme and Funding Requirements

    1. All project proposals must address one or more of the following research themes (discussed in Section I.D.1 above):
      1. Tribal cumulative exposure and risks from multiple environmental stressors
      2. Impacts of global climate change on the cultural and physical health of Tribal populations

    2. All submissions should indicate which of the two following levels of data collection and funding will support their research objectives:
      1. Methods development at up to $330,000 total direct and indirect costs over 2-3 years.
      2. Epidemiology study at up to $1,000,000 total direct and indirect costs over 3-4 years.

    3. All project proposals, regardless of topic or funding level, should include new knowledge and/or data collection in all of the following domains (as discussed in Section I.D above):
      1. Subsistence resources
      2. Subsistence lifestyle behaviors and practices
      3. Chemical exposures
      4. Differentially impacted populations and health outcomes data

    4. All proposals must address risk communication and risk management approaches to reduce subsistence-based risk, particularly those that may not significantly compromise traditional lifestyles to a significant extent.

    5. Each proposal must identify the appropriate Funding Opportunity Number (FON) code that reflects the research theme and funding level as described above in a and c. For example, proposals seeking to model the impacts of global climate change on the health and wellness of tribal communities correspond to code EPA-G2007-STAR-C3 (see section IV.B.9(b) for list of appropriate FONs).

The awards under this RFA may involve the collection of "Geospatial Information," which includes information that identifies the geographic location and characteristics of natural or constructed features or boundaries on the Earth or applications, tools, and hardware associated with the generation, maintenance, or distribution of such information. This information may be derived from, among other things, Geographic Positioning System (GPS), remote sensing, mapping, charting, and surveying technologies, or statistical data.

II. AWARD INFORMATION

This solicitation will make awards at two different funding levels:

  1. Methods and/or model development projects: Approximately 3 awards for up to a total of $330,000, including direct and indirect costs, with a maximum duration of 3 years.
  2. Epidemiology research: Approximately 2 awards for up to a total of $1,000,000, including direct and indirect costs with a maximum duration of 4 years.

It is anticipated that a total of approximately $3 million will be awarded under this announcement, depending on the availability of funds and quality of applications received. The EPA anticipates funding approximately 5 grants under this RFA.

The EPA reserves the right to reject all applications and make no awards, or make fewer awards than anticipated, under this RFA. The EPA reserves the right, consistent with Agency policy and without further competition, to make additional awards under this RFA if additional funding becomes available. Any additional selections for awards will be made no later than 4 months after the original selection decisions.

EPA may fund both grants and cooperative agreements under this announcement.

Under a grant, EPA scientists and engineers are not permitted to be substantially involved in the execution of the research. However, EPA encourages interaction between its own laboratory scientists and grant Principal Investigators after the award of an EPA grant 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.

Where appropriate, based on consideration of the nature of the proposed project relative to the EPA's intramural research program and available resources, the EPA will fund cooperative agreements under this announcement. When addressing a research question/problem of common interest, collaborations between scientists and the institution's principal investigators are permitted under a cooperative agreement. These collaborations may include data and information exchange, providing technical input to experimental design and theoretical development, coordinating extramural research with in-house activities, the refinement of valuation endpoints, and joint authorship of journal articles on these activities. Proposals should not identify EPA cooperators or interactions; specific interactions between EPA's investigators and those of the prospective recipient for cooperative agreements will be negotiated at the time of award.

III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

A. Eligible Applicants
Public nonprofit institutions/organizations (includes public institutions of higher education and hospitals) and private nonprofit institutions/organizations (includes private institutions of higher education and hospitals) located in the U.S., state and local governments, Federally Recognized Indian Tribal Governments, and U.S. territories or possessions are eligible to apply. Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive assistance agreements from the 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 lobby 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 applicant, but may not direct projects on behalf of the applicant organization. The institution, organization, or governance receiving the award may provide funds through its assistance agreement from the EPA to an 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 an assistance agreement, and may not receive salaries or augment their Agency's appropriations in other ways through awards made under this program.

The applicant 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. In addition, an appropriate form of assurance that documents the commitment, such as a letter of intent from the Federal Agency involved, should be included.

Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact Tom Barnwell (barnwell.thomas@epa.gov); phone: 202-343-9862.

B. Cost-Sharing
Institutional cost-sharing is not required.

C. Threshold eligibility requirements
Applications from eligible applicants must meet the requirements listed below. Those that do not meet these requirements will not be reviewed nor considered for funding.

  • All project proposals submitted must address one or more of the research areas listed in Section I.D.1.
  • Applicants must demonstrate tribal engagement and participation in designing the research aims, objectives and methods; and, an ability to integrate traditional knowledge and practices in conducting the research.
  • All project proposals must address the development of approaches to reduce or prevent subsistence-based risk and/or health promotion strategies, especially those that may not compromise lifestyles to a significant extent.

D. Other
In addition, applications must substantially comply with the application submission instructions and requirements set forth in Section IV of this announcement or they will be rejected. In addition, where a page limitation is expressed in Section IV with respect to parts of the application, pages in excess of the page limit will not be reviewed. Applications must be received by the EPA, or Grants.gov, on or before the solicitation closing date and time in Section IV of this announcement or they will be returned to the sender without further consideration. Also, applications exceeding the funding limits or project period term described herein will be returned without review. Further, applications that fail to demonstrate a public purpose of support or stimulation (e.g., by proposing research which primarily benefits a Federal program or provides a service for a Federal agency) will not be funded.

In addition, to be eligible for funding consideration, a project's focus must consist of activities within the statutory terms of EPA's financial assistance authorities; specifically, the statute(s) listed above. Generally, a project must address the causes, effects, extent, prevention, reduction, and elimination of air, water, solid/hazardous waste pollution, toxic substances control, or pesticide control. These activities should relate to the gathering or transferring of information or advancing the state of knowledge. Proposals should emphasize this "learning" concept, as opposed to "fixing" an environmental problem via a well-established method. Proposals relating to other topics which are sometimes included within the term "environment" such as recreation, conservation, restoration, protection of wildlife habitats, etc., must describe the relationship of these topics to the statutorily required purpose of pollution prevention and/or control.

Applications deemed ineligible for funding consideration will be notified within fifteen calendar days of the ineligibility determination.

IV. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

You may submit either a paper application or an electronic application (but not both) for this announcement. Instructions for both types of submission follow. If not otherwise marked, instructions apply to both types of submissions.

A. Internet Address to Request Application Package
For paper applications, forms and instructions can be found on the NCER web site: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/.

For electronic applications, use the application package available at https://apply.grants.gov/forms_apps_idx.html (see "Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications").

For both paper and electronic applications, an email will be sent by NCER to the Principal Investigator and the Administrative Contact (see below) to acknowledge receipt of the application and transmit other important information. The email will be sent from receipt.application@epa.gov; email to this address will not be accepted. If you do not receive an email acknowledgment within 30 days of the submission closing date, immediately inform the Eligibility Contact shown in this solicitation. Failure to do so may result in your application not being reviewed. See "Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications" for additional information regarding acknowledgment of receipt of electronically submitted applications. Please note: Due to often lengthy delays in delivery, it is especially important that you monitor NCER's confirmation of receipt of your application when using regular mail.

B. Content and Form of Application Submission
The application is made by submitting the materials described below. It is essential that the application contain all information requested and be submitted in the formats described.

  1. Standard Form 424

    The applicant must complete Standard Form 424. This form will be the first page(s) of the application. Instructions for completion of the SF424 are included with the form. (However, note that EPA requires that the entire requested dollar amount appear on the 424, not simply the proposed first year expenses.) The form must contain the original (or electronic) signature of an authorized representative of the applying institution.

    Applicants are required to provide a "Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System" (DUNS) number when applying for federal grants or cooperative agreements. Organizations may receive a DUNS number by calling 1-866-705-5711 or by visiting the web site at http://www.dnb.com exit EPA.

    Executive Order 12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs," applies to most EPA programs and assistance agreements, unless the program or assistance agreement supports tribal, training/fellowships (other than Wastewater and Small Water Systems Operator training programs), and research and development (with some exceptions). The SF424 refers to this Executive Order requirement. National research programs are generally exempt from review unless the proposals (a) require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), or (b) do not require an EIS but will be newly initiated at a particular site and require unusual measures to limit the possibility of adverse exposure or hazard to the general public, or (c) have a unique geographic focus and are directly relevant to the governmental responsibilities of a State or local government within that geographic area. To determine whether their state participates in this process, and how to comply, applicants should consult http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants/spoc.html.

  2. Key Contacts

    The applicant must complete the "Key Contacts" form as the second page of the application; a Key Contacts continuation page is also available at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms. The Key Contacts form should also be completed for major sub-agreements (i.e., primary co-investigators). Please make certain that all contact information is accurate.

  3. Table of Contents

    Provide a list of the major subdivisions of the application indicating the page number on which each section begins. (Not required for electronic submissions.)

  4. Abstract (1 page)

    The abstract is a very important document in the review process. Therefore, it is critical that the abstract accurately describes the research being proposed and conveys 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 should include the information described below (a-h). Examples of abstracts for current grants may be found on the NCER web site.

    1. RFA Title, and Funding Opportunity Number for this proposal.
    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 general 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 email contact address for additional information.
    4. Institution: In the same order as the list of investigators, list the name, city and state of each participating university or other applicant institution. The institution applying for assistance must be clearly identified.
    5. Project Period and Location: Show the proposed project beginning and ending dates, and the geographical location(s) the work will be conducted.
    6. Project Cost: Show the total dollars requested from the EPA (include direct and indirect costs for all years).
    7. Project Summary: Provide three subsections addressing: (1) the objectives of the study (including any hypotheses that will be tested), (2) the experimental approach to be used (a description of the project proposed), and (3) 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: Without duplicating terms already used in the text of the abstract, list keywords to assist database searchers in finding your research. A list of suggested keywords may be found at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms.

  5. Research Plan and Quality Assurance Statement
    1. Research Plan (15 pages)

      Applications should focus on a limited number of research objectives that adequately and clearly demonstrate that they 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 reviewers can evaluate the appropriateness of your approach and the tools you intend to use. A statement such as: "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. While these guidelines establish the minimum type size requirements, applicants are advised that readability is of paramount importance and should take precedence in selection of an appropriate font for use in the proposal.

      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 and how it fulfills the requirements of the solicitation. Describe the policy, planning and/or decision-making that the research is intended to inform. This section should also include any background or introductory information that would help explain the objectives of the study. If this application is to expand upon research supported by an existing or former assistance agreement awarded under the STAR program, indicate the number of the agreement and provide a brief report of progress and results achieved under it (one to two pages recommended).
      2. Approach/Activities: Outline the research design, methods, and techniques that you intend to use in meeting the objectives stated above (five to ten pages recommended).
      3. Expected Results, Benefits, Outputs, and Outcomes: Describe the results you expect to achieve during the project (outputs) and the potential benefits of the results (outcomes). This section must also discuss how a risk communication or risk management plan may be implemented to increase tribal awareness of the investigated environmental concerns and to reduce subsistence-based risk. A clear, concise description will help NCER and peer reviewers 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 expertise/experience, project schedules, proposed management, interactions with other institutions, etc. Applications for multi-investigator projects must identify project management and the functions of each investigator in each team and describe plans to communicate and share data (one to two pages recommended).
      5. Appendices may be included but must remain within the 15-page limit.

    2. Quality Assurance Statement (1 to 3 pages in addition to the 15-page research plan) For projects involving environmental data collection or processing, conducting surveys, modeling, method development, or the development of environmental technology (whether hardware-based or via new techniques), provide a Quality Assurance Statement (QAS) regarding the plans for processes that will be used to ensure that the products of the research satisfy the intended project objectives. Follow the guidelines provided below to ensure that the QAS describes a system that complies with ANSI/ASQC E4, Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology Programs. Do not exceed three consecutively numbered, 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced, standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins.

      Address each section below by including the required information, referencing the specific location of the information in the Research Plan, or explaining why the section does not apply to the proposed research.

      1. Identify the individual who will be responsible for the quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) aspects of the research along with a brief description of this person's functions, experience, and authority within the research organization. Describe the organization's general approach for conducting quality research. (QA is a system of management activities to ensure that a process or item is of the type and quality needed for the project. QC is a system of activities that measures the attributes and performance of a process or item against the standards defined in the project documentation to verify that they meet those stated requirements.)
      2. Discuss project objectives, including quality objectives, any hypotheses to be tested, and the quantitative and/or qualitative procedures that will be used to evaluate the success of the project. Include any plans for peer or other reviews of the study design or analytical methods.
      3. Address each of the following project elements as applicable:
        1. Collection of new/primary data:
          (Note: In this case the word "sample" is intended to mean any finite part of a statistical population whose properties are studied to gain information about the whole. If certain attributes listed below do not apply to the type of samples to be used in your research, simply explain why those attributes are not applicable.)
          1. Discuss the plan for sample collection and analysis. As applicable, include sample type(s), frequency, locations, sample sizes, sampling procedures, and the criteria for determining acceptable data quality (e.g., precision, accuracy, representativeness, completeness, comparability, or data quality objectives).
          2. Describe the procedures for the handling and custody of samples including sample collection, identification, preservation, transportation, and storage, and how the accuracy of test measurements will be verified.
          3. Describe or reference each analytical method to be used, any QA or QC checks or procedures with the associated acceptance criteria, and any procedures that will be used in the calibration and performance evaluation of the analytical instrumentation.
          4. Discuss the procedures for overall data reduction, analysis, and reporting. Include a description of all statistical methods to make inferences and conclusions, acceptable error rates and/or power, and any statistical software to be used.
        2. Use of existing/secondary data (i.e., data previously collected for other purposes or from other sources):
          1. Describe or reference each analytical method to be used, any QA or QC checks or procedures with the associated acceptance criteria, and any procedures that will be used in the calibration and performance evaluation of the analytical instrumentation.
          2. Discuss the procedures for overall data reduction, analysis, and reporting. Include a description of all statistical methods to make inferences and conclusions, acceptable error rates and/or power, and any statistical software to be used.
        3. Method development:
          (Note: The data collected for use in method development or evaluation should be described in the QAS as per the guidance in section 3A and/or 3B above.)

          Describe the scope and application of the method, any tests (and measurements) to be conducted to support the method development, the type of instrumentation that will be used and any required instrument conditions (e.g., calibration frequency), planned QC checks and associated criteria (e.g., spikes, replicates, blanks), and tests to verify the method's performance.

        4. Development or refinement of models:
          (Note: The data collected for use in the development or refinement of models should be described in the QAS as per the guidance in section 3A and/or 3B above.)
          1. Discuss the scope and purpose of the model, key assumptions to be made during development/refinement, requirements for code development, and how the model will be documented.
          2. Discuss verification techniques to ensure the source code implements the model correctly.
          3. Discuss validation techniques to determine that the model (assumptions and algorithms) captures the essential phenomena with adequate fidelity.
          4. Discuss plans for long-term maintenance of the model and associated data.

        5. Development or operation of environmental technology:
          (Note: The data collected for use in the development or evaluation of the technology should be described in the QAS as per the guidance in section 3A and/or 3B above.)
          1. Describe the overall purpose and anticipated impact of the technology.
          2. Describe the technical and quality specifications of each technology component or process that is to be designed, fabricated, constructed, and/or operated.
          3. Discuss the procedure to be used for documenting and controlling design changes.
          4. Discuss the procedure to be used for documenting the acceptability of processes and components, and discuss how the technology will be benchmarked and its effectiveness determined.
          5. Discuss the documentation requirements for operating instructions/guides for maintenance and use of the system(s) and/or process(s).
        6. Conducting surveys:
          (Note: The data to be collected in the survey and any supporting data should be described in the QAS as per the guidance in section 3A and/or 3B above.)

          Discuss the justification for the size of the proposed sample for both the overall project and all subsamples for specific treatments or tests. Identify and explain the rationale for the proposed statistical techniques (e.g., evaluation of statistical power).

      4. Discuss data management activities (e.g., record-keeping procedures, data-handling procedures, and the approach used for data storage and retrieval on electronic media). Include any required computer hardware and software and address any specific performance requirements for the hardware/software configuration used.

      Page allowances for the following section(s) are in addition to those allowed for the Research Plan and Quality Assurance Statement.

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

  6. Budget and Budget Justification
    1. Budget

      Prepare a budget table using the Itemized Budget Sheet form found at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms. If a sub-agreement, such as a subcontract with an educational institution, is greater than $25,000 and is included in the application, provide a separate budget and budget justification for the sub-agreement. Include the total amount for the sub-agreement under "Other" in the master budget. Any project containing sub-agreements or subcontracts that constitute more than 40% of the total direct cost of the application will be subject to special review. Additional justification for use of these must be provided, discussing the need for the agreement/contract to accomplish the objectives of the research project.

      Please note that institutional cost-sharing is not required. However, if cost-sharing is proposed, 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.

    2. Budget Justification (2 pages in addition to the Section 5 page limitations)

      Describe the basis for calculating the personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, and other costs identified in the itemized budget. 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, locations, and other costs for each type of travel. Explain the need for any travel, paying particular attention to travel outside the United States. Include travel funds for annual STAR program progress reviews (estimate for two days in Washington, D.C.) and a final workshop to report on results.
      4. Equipment: Identify all tangible, non-expendable personal property to be purchased that has an estimated cost of $5,000 or more per unit and a useful life of more than one year. (Personal property items with a unit cost of less than $5,000 are considered supplies.)
      5. Supplies: "Supplies" means tangible property other than "equipment." Identify categories of supplies to be procured (e.g., laboratory supplies or office supplies). Specifically identify computers to be purchased or upgraded.
      6. Contractual: Identify each proposed contract for supplies or consultants and specify its purpose and estimated cost. Contracts greater than $25,000 must have a separate itemized budget and budget justification, not to exceed one additional page each, 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. Note that sub-agreements, such as those with other universities for members of the research team, are included in this category. Sub-agreements greater than $25,000 must have a separate itemized budget and budget justification, not to exceed one additional page each, included as part of the application.
      8. Indirect Costs: If indirect costs are included in the budget, indicate the approved rate and base with an explanation of how the indirect costs were calculated.
  7. Resumes

    Provide resumes for each investigator and important co-worker. 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.

  8. Current and Pending Support

    Complete a current and pending support form (provided at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms) for each investigator and important co-worker.

  9. Guidelines, Limitations, and Additional Requirements
    1. Letters of Intent/Letters of Support

      Letters of intent to provide resources for the proposed research or to document intended interactions are limited to one brief paragraph committing the availability of a resource (e.g., use of a person's time or equipment) or intended interaction (e.g., sharing of data, as-needed consultation) that is described in the Research Plan. Letters of intent are to be included as an addition to the budget justification documents.

      All letters that do not commit a resource vital to success of the proposal are considered letters of support. Letters of support, and letters of intent that exceed one brief paragraph, are considered part of the Research Plan and are included in the 15-page Research Plan limit.

      Tribal Resolutions, or other official documentation, are encouraged, though not required (up to 5 pages in addition to the 15-page Research Plan limit). If the applicant is a Native American Tribe or Tribal organization, a resolution from the Tribal government of all Tribes participating in the proposed research may accompany the application submission. Currently operating resolutions may be sufficient, in which case a copy of the current resolution may accompany the application.

      Note: Letters of intent or support must be part of the application; letters submitted separately will not be accepted.

    2. Funding Opportunity Number (s) (FON)

      At various places in the application, applicants are asked to identify the FON. Applicants must select the FON corresponding to their proposed research topic area. It is the responsibility of the applicant to identify the proper FON 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 FON, choose the most appropriate one. For electronic submissions, use the appropriate electronic application package for the chosen FON (see "Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications"). Each application must be submitted using a single FON.

      The Funding Opportunity Numbers for this RFA are:

      Methods Development for Cumulative Exposure Assessment EPA-G2007-STAR-C1
      Epidemiological Studies of the Cumulative Effects of Environmental Stressors EPA-G2007-STAR-C2
      Methods Development for Modeling Health Impacts of Global Climate Change EPA-G2007-STAR-C3
      Epidemiological Studies of the Health Effects of Global Climate Change EPA-G2007-STAR-C4

    3. Confidentiality

      By submitting an application in response to this solicitation, the applicant grants the 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 to the extent permitted by law.

      In accordance with 40 CFR 2.203, applicants may claim all or a portion of the application as confidential business information (for example, hypotheses or methodologies contained in the research narrative that the applicant wishes to protect from possible public disclosure). EPA will evaluate confidentiality claims in accordance with 40 CFR Part 2. Applicants must clearly mark applications or portions of applications they claim as confidential. If no claim of confidentiality is made, the EPA is not required to make an inquiry to the applicant as otherwise required by 40 CFR 2.204(c) (2) prior to disclosure.

C. Submission Dates and Times
For paper copy submissions, the original and two (2) copies of the complete application (3 in all, see E. below) must be received by NCER no later than 4:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date. Electronic applications must be transferred to Grants.gov no later than 4:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date. Applications received after the closing date and time will be returned to the sender without further consideration.

It should be noted that this schedule may be changed without prior notification because of factors not anticipated at the time of announcement. In the case of a change in the application closing date, a new date will be posted on the NCER web site (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/) and a modification posted on www.grants.gov.

Solicitation Closing Date: January 23, 2007 4:00 pm Eastern Time for paper applications, 4:00 pm for electronic submissions.

D. 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 the Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act, 31 U.S.C. 6301 et seq., the primary purpose of an assistance agreement 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, 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 funding opportunity you must ensure that the research proposed in each application is significantly different from any other that has been submitted to the EPA or from any other financial assistance you are currently receiving from the EPA or other federal government agency.

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

Any contracts for services or products funded with EPA financial assistance must be awarded under the competitive procurement procedures of 40 CFR Part 30 and/or Part 31. Moreover, naming a specific contractor in the application does not relieve the applicant of its obligations to comply with competitive procurement requirements. Also, the regulations contain limitations on consultant compensation.

Each proposed project must be able to be completed within the project period and with the initial award of funds. Applicants should request the entire amount of money needed to complete the project. Recipients should not anticipate additional funding beyond the initial award of funds for a specific project.

E. Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements
You may submit either a paper application or an electronic application (but not both) under this announcement.

  1. Submission Instructions for Paper Applications

    Three (3) copies of the application must be submitted: 1) an original, signed copy; 2) a single-sided copy on plain white paper for scanning (please label this copy); and 3) another photocopy for administrative purposes. Do not permanently bind or staple any of these copies; please use either binder or paper clips to secure them.

    Because of security concerns, paper 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)
    Funding Opportunity Number: (applicant: place the appropriate number here)
    1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20460

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

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Peer Review Division (8725F)
    Funding Opportunity Number: (applicant: place the appropriate number here)
    1025 F Street, NW (Room 3500)
    Washington, DC 20004
    Phone: (202) 233-0686
  2. Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications

    Please read this entire section before attempting an electronic submission through Grants.gov.

    1. Preparing for Submission. The appropriate electronic application package available through the http://www.grants.gov site must be used for electronic submissions. In order to view the application package, download the PureEdge viewer (click on "Apply for Grants", then see "Apply Step 1"). The application package may be quickly accessed from https://apply.grants.gov/forms_apps_idx.html using the appropriate FON. Be sure to download the electronic application package for the appropriate FON. Please register for announcement change notification emails.

      The electronic submission of your application package must be made by an official representative of your institution who is registered with Grants.gov and authorized to sign for Federal assistance. For more information, go to http://www.grants.gov and click on "Get Registered". Note that the registration process may take a week or longer to complete. If your organization is not currently registered with Grants.gov, please encourage your office to designate an AOR and begin the registration process as soon as possible. Most submission problems can be avoided by communicating with the AOR well before the solicitation closing date and allowing sufficient time for following the guidance provided below.

    2. Acknowledgement of Receipt. The complete application must be transferred to Grants.gov no later than 4:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date (see "Submission Dates and Times"). Grants.gov provides acknowledgements of application receipt that include an on-screen notification of successful initial transfer as well as an e-mail notification of successful transfer from Grants.gov to EPA. While it is advisable to retain copies of these Grants.gov acknowledgements to document submission, the only official documentation that the application has been received by NCER is the e-mail acknowledgement sent by NCER to the Principal Investigator and the Administrative Contact. This email will be sent from receipt.application@epa.gov; email to this address will not be accepted. If an email acknowledgment from NCER (not support@grants.gov) has not been received within 30 days of the solicitation closing date, immediately inform the Eligibility Contact shown in this solicitation. Failure to do so may result in your application not being reviewed.

    3. Application Package Preparation. The application package consists of 1 though 4 below.
      1. On the initial electronic Grant Application Package page, complete the "Application Filing Name" field by entering the Principal Investigator's name, starting with the last name. Note: Applicants do not need to complete the "Competition ID" field.
      2. Application for Federal Assistance (SF 424): Complete the form.
      3. EPA Key Contacts Form 5700-54: Complete the form. If additional pages are needed, see (4) below.
      4. Project Narrative Attachment Form (click on "Add Mandatory Project Narrative"): Attach a single electronic file labeled "Application" that contains the items contained in Section IV.B.4. through IV.B.9.a of this solicitation. This file must be submitted in Adobe Acrobat PDF. Please review the PDF file for conversion errors prior to including it in the electronic application package; requests to rectify conversion errors will not be accepted if made after the solicitation closing date and time. If Key Contacts Continuation pages (see http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms) are needed, place them before the Abstract (IV.B.4.).

      Once the application package has been completed, the "Submit" button should be enabled. If the "Submit" button is not active, please contact Grants.gov for assistance (Telephone: 1-800-518-4726). Investigators should save the completed application package with two different file names before providing it to the AOR to avoid having to re-create the package should submission problems be experienced.

    4. Transfer of Files. The application package must be transferred to Grants.gov by an AOR. The AOR should close all other software before attempting to submit the application package. Click the "submit" button of the application package. Your Internet browser will launch and a sign-in page will appear. Note: Minor problems are not uncommon with transfers to Grants.gov. It is essential to allow sufficient time to follow all trouble-shooting instructions before 4:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date.

      A successful transfer will end with an on-screen acknowledgement. For documentation purposes, print this acknowledgement using "Print Screen." If you experience submission problems, reboot the computer - turning the power off may be necessary - and re-attempt the submission. If submission problems continue, contact Grants.gov for assistance (Telephone: 1-800-518-4726).

    5. Transmission Difficulties. If transmission difficulties that result in a late transmission, no transmission, or rejection of the transmitted application are experienced, follow the guidance below. NCER may decide to review the application if it is clearly demonstrated that these transmission difficulties were due solely as a result of problems associated with the transfer to Grants.gov. The decision regarding acceptance of the application for review will be made by NCER management and provided to the applicant within ten working days of the request. All e-mails, as described below, are to be sent to Bronda Harrison (harrison.bronda@epa.gov) with the FON in the subject line.
      1. Late transfer due to electronic submission problems: Should electronic submission problems result in the application being transferred to Grants.gov after 4:00 pm but before 5:00pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date, send an e-mail documenting the problem and include the Grants.gov "case number".
      2. Unsuccessful transfer of application package: If a successful transfer of the application cannot be accomplished due to electronic submission issues, send an e-mail before 5:00pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date. Document the problem, include the Grants.gov "case number," and attach the entire application.
      3. Grants.gov rejection of application: If a notification is received from Grants.gov stating that the application has been rejected for reasons other than late submittal, immediately send an email which includes any materials provided by Grants.gov with the entire application attached.

V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION

A. Peer Review
All eligible grant applications are reviewed by an appropriate external technical peer review panel comprised of individual experts using the criteria below. This review is designed to evaluate each application according to its scientific merit. Each peer review panel includes non-EPA scientists, engineers, social scientists, and/or economists who are accomplished in their respective disciplines and proficient in the technical subjects they are reviewing. Reviewers are asked to individually assign a score of excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor to each application. EPA translates the average of these individual scores into the final panel review score.

Individual external peer review panel members consider an application's merit based on the criteria below. Criteria 1-5 are listed in descending order of importance:

  1. Research Proposal (criteria "1a" through "1f" are essentially equal):
    1. The originality and creativity of the proposed research, the appropriateness and adequacy of the proposed research methods, and the Quality Assurance Statement.
    2. Is the research approach practical and technically defensible, and can the project be performed within the proposed time period?
    3. Will the research contribute to scientific knowledge in the topic area?
    4. What are the projected benefits of the proposed activity to society, such as improving the environment or human health?
    5. Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding?
    6. Is the proposal well prepared with supportive information that is self-explanatory or understandable?
  2. Investigators: 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. Responsiveness: The responsiveness of the proposal to the research needs identified for the research area. Does the proposal adequately address the objectives and special considerations specified by the EPA as outlined in sections 1.D (Specific Research Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes) and 1.F. (Special Requirements) of the solicitation?
  4. Facilities and equipment: 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. Budget: 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.

B. Programmatic Review
Applications receiving scores of excellent or very good as a result of the peer review process will then undergo an internal programmatic review, as described below, conducted by technical experts from the EPA, including individuals from the Office of Research and Development (ORD) and program and regional offices involved with the science or engineering proposed. All other applications are automatically declined.

After the peer review, those applicants who received scores of excellent or very good as a result of the peer review process will be asked to provide additional information for the programmatic review pertaining to the proposed Lead Principal Investigator's (PI) "Past Performance and Reporting History." The applicant must provide the EPA Project Officer with information on the proposed Lead PI's past performance and reporting history under prior Federal agency assistance agreements in terms of: (i) the level of success in performing each agreement, and (ii) how progress towards achieving the results intended under each agreement was reported. This information is required only for the proposed Lead PI's performance under Federal assistance agreements initiated within the last three years that were similar in size and scope to the proposed project.

The specific information required for each agreement is shown below, and must be provided within two weeks of EPA's request. A maximum of three pages will be permitted for the response; excess pages will not be reviewed. Note: If no prior past performance information and/or reporting history exists, you will be asked to so state.

  1. Name of Granting Agency.
  2. Grant/Cooperative agreement number.
  3. Grant/Cooperative agreement title.
  4. Brief description of the grant/cooperative agreement.
  5. A description of how the agreement is similar in size and scope to the proposed project and whether or not it was successfully performed; if not successfully performed, provide an explanation.
  6. Information relating to the proposed Lead PI's past performance in reporting on progress towards achieving the expected results (outputs/outcomes) under the agreement. Include the history of submitting timely progress/final technical reports, describe how progress towards achieving the expected results was reported/documented, and if such progress was not being made, provide an explanation of whether, and how, this was reported.
  7. Total (all years) grant/cooperative agreement dollar value.
  8. Project period.
  9. Technical contact (project officer), telephone number, and E-mail address (if available).

The purpose of the programmatic review is to assure an integrated research portfolio for the Agency and help determine which applications to recommend for award. In conducting the programmatic review, the EPA will consider information provided by the applicant and may consider information from other sources, including prior and current grantors and agency files.

The internal programmatic review panel will assess:

  1. The relevance of the proposed science to EPA research priorities.
  2. The proposed Lead PI's past performance (under Federal agency assistance agreements initiated within the last three years that were similar in size and scope to the proposed project) in two areas: First, in successfully performing these prior Federal assistance projects, including whether there is a satisfactory explanation for any lack of success. Second, in reporting progress towards achieving results under these agreements, including the proposed Lead PI's history of submitting timely progress/final technical reports that adequately describe the progress toward achieving the expected results (outputs/outcomes) under the agreements. Any explanation of why progress towards achieving the results was not made will also be considered. Applicants whose proposed Lead PI has no relevant past performance and/or reporting history, or for whom this information is not available, will be evaluated neither favorably nor unfavorably on these elements.
  3. The applicant's organizational experience.

C. Funding Decisions
Final funding decisions are made by the NCER Director based on the results of the peer review and internal programmatic review including past performance considerations. In addition, in making the final funding decisions, the NCER Director may also consider program balance, available funds, and the Congressionally-mandated Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCOR) (see http://www.epa.gov/ncer/other/). Applicants selected for funding will be required to provide additional information listed below under "Award Notices." The application will then be forwarded to EPA's grants administration office for award in accordance with the EPA's procedures.

VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

A. Award Notices
Customarily, applicants are notified about evaluation decisions within six months of the application closing date. A summary statement of the scientific review by the peer panel will be provided to each applicant with an award or declination letter.

Applicants to be recommended for funding will be required to submit additional certifications and an electronic version of the revised project abstract. They may also be asked 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. Before or after an award, applicants may be required to provide additional quality assurance documentation.

Nonprofit applicants recommended for funding will be subject to a preaward administrative capability review consistent with sections 8.b, 8.c, and 9.d of EPA Order 5700.8, EPA Policy on Assessing Capabilities of Non-Profit Applicants for Managing Assistance Awards (http://www.epa.gov/ogd/grants/regulations.htm).

The official notification of an award will be made by the Agency's Grants Administration Division. Applicants are cautioned that only a grants officer is authorized to bind the Government to the expenditure of funds; preliminary selection by the NCER Director in the Office of Research and Development does not guarantee an award will be made.

B. Disputes
Disputes related to this assistance agreement competition will be resolved in accordance with the dispute resolution procedures set forth in 70 FR 3629, 3630 (January 26, 2005) which can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ogd/competition/resolution.htm. Questions regarding disputes may be referred to the Eligibility Contact identified below.

C. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
Expectations and responsibilities of NCER grantees and cooperative agreement holders are summarized in this section, although the terms grant and grantee are used. See http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance for the full terms and conditions associated with an award, including which activities require prior approval from the EPA.

  1. Meetings: Principal Investigators will be expected to budget for, and participate in, All-Investigators Meetings (also known as progress reviews) approximately once per year with EPA scientists and other grantees to report on research activities and discuss issues of mutual interest.
  2. Approval of Changes after Award: Prior written approval is required from the EPA if there will be a significant change from the work described in the application. Examples of these changes are contained in 40 C.F.R. 30.25. Note: prior written approval is also required from the EPA for incurring costs more than 90 calendar days prior to award.
  3. 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. For studies involving children or pregnant or nursing women, please refer to Subparts B, C, and D of 40C.F.R. 26 (http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=a4631a06728b30e9167cdde145bba3a7&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title40/40cfr26_main_02.tpl). 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.
  4. Animal Welfare: A grant recipient must agree to comply with the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 (P.L. 89-544), as amended, 7 U.S.C. 2131-2156. The recipient must also agree to abide by the "U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals used in Testing, Research, and Training" (50 Federal Register 20864-20865. May 20, 1985).
  5. Data Access and Information Release: After award, all data (including primary and secondary or existing data) must be made available to the NCER Project Officer without restriction and be accompanied by comprehensive metadata 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. If requested, the data products and their metadata must be provided to the NCER Project Officer in a standard exchange format no later than the due date of the grant's final report or the publication of the data product's associated results, whichever comes first.

    Congress, through OMB, has instructed each federal 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." The 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.

    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. 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 the EPA regulations at 40 C.F.R. 30.36.

  6. Reporting: A grant recipient must agree to provide annual progress reports, with associated summaries, and a final report with an executive summary. The summaries will be posted on NCER's website.
  7. 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 that were based on research supported by the grant. NCER posts references to all publications resulting from a grant on the NCER web site.

  8. Acknowledgement of EPA Support: EPA's full or partial support must be acknowledged in journal articles, oral or poster presentations, news releases, interviews with reporters and other communications. Any documents developed under this agreement that are intended 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 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. EPA expects recipients to use this graphic in oral and poster presentations.

VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the EPA officials indicated below. Information regarding this RFA obtained from sources other than these Agency Contacts may not be accurate. Email inquiries are preferred.

Eligibility Contact: Tom Barnwell (barnwell.thomas@epa.gov); phone: 202-343-9862
Electronic Submissions: Bronda Harrison (harrison.bronda@epa.gov); phone: 202-564-1790
Technical Contact: Nigel Fields (fields.nigel@epa.gov); phone: 202-564-3405

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