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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

Black Carbons Role In Global To Local Scale Climate And Air Quality

This is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity.

Funding Opportunity Number:

    Black Carbons Role in Global to Local Scale Climate and Air Quality: EPA-G2010-STAR-L1
    Early Career Projects: Black Carbons Role in Global to Local Scale Climate and Air Quality: EPA-G2010-STAR-L2

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 66.509

Solicitation Opening Date: May 19, 2010
Solicitation Closing Date: September 22, 2010 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time

Eligibility Contact: William Stelz (stelz.william@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8039
Electronic Submissions: Ron Josephson (josephson.ron@epa.gov); phone: 703-308-0442
Technical Contact: Bryan Bloomer (bloomer.bryan@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8040

Table of Contents:
SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
Synopsis of Program
Award Information
Eligibility Information
Application Materials
Agency Contacts
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. 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/)

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 applications proposing research into black carbon (BC), related co-pollutants, and other short lived climate forcers (SLCF) and their effects on climate change and air quality. EPA is interested in research that investigates the emission sources, the global to local scale emissions inventory, and applies modeling tools to assess BC, co-pollutants and other SLCF in a climate and air quality context. Applications may also evaluate the impact of long range transport of BC, co-pollutants and SLCF, or develop and assess metrics for comparing the impacts of BC, co-pollutants and SLCF simultaneously in a climate and air quality context on the time scale of a decade to a century.

In addition to regular awards, this solicitation includes the opportunity for early career projects. Please see section III of this Request for Applications (RFA) for details on the early career eligibility criteria.

Award Information:
Anticipated Type of Award: Grant
Estimated Number of Awards: Approximately 6 regular awards and 3 early career awards. See section III for more information.
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $7 million total for all awards
Potential Funding per Award: Up to a total of $900,000, for regular awards and $450,000 for early career awards, including direct and indirect costs, with a maximum duration of 3 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.

Special eligibility criteria apply to the early career project portion of this RFA. See full announcement for more details.

Application Materials:
To apply under this solicitation, use the application package available at Grants.gov (for further submission information see Section IV.E. “Submission Instructions and other Submission Requirements”). The necessary forms for submitting a STAR application will be found on the National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) web site, http://epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms. If your organization is not currently registered with Grants.gov, you need to allow approximately one week to complete the registration process. This registration, and electronic submission of your application, must be performed by an authorized representative of your organization.

If you do not have the technical capability to utilize the Grants.gov application submission process for this solicitation, call 1-800-490-9194 or send a webmail message to http://www.epa.gov/ncer/contact_us.html at least 15 calendar days before the submission deadline to assure timely receipt of alternate submission instructions. In your message provide the funding opportunity number and title of the program, specify that you are requesting alternate submission instructions, and provide a telephone number, fax number, and an email address, if available. Alternate instructions will be e-mailed whenever possible. Any applications submitted through alternate submission methods must comply with all the provisions of this Request for Applications (RFA), including Section IV, and be received by the solicitation closing date identified above.

Agency Contacts:
Eligibility Contact: William Stelz (stelz.william@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8039
Electronic Submissions: Ron Josephson (josephson.ron@epa.gov); phone: 703-308-0442
Technical Contact: Bryan Bloomer (bloomer.bryan@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8040

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

A. Introduction
EPA's Global Change Research Program (http://www.epa.gov/research/npd/globalresearch-intro.htm) supports research to assess the potential consequences of global changes for human health, ecosystems, and social well being in the United States. The Program focuses on two major areas consistent with EPA's mission: water quality and air quality. This RFA specifically focuses on air quality. The overall framework for assessing the potential consequences of global changes on air quality in this RFA is the Global Change Multi-year Plan (pending revisions to be posted). In addition to regular awards, this solicitation includes the opportunity for early career projects. Please see Section III of this RFA for details on the early career eligibility criteria.

B. Background
According to the IPCC Fourth Assessment on climate change, human activities since 1750 have caused a net global warming, which is supported with a very high level of scientific understanding (IPCC, 2007). Long-lived green house gases (LLGHG), which include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), halocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), are responsible for the majority of the warming. However, short lived climate forcers (SLCFs) such as tropospheric ozone and aerosols have a lower scientific understanding. As the world moves towards significant action mitigating climate change more attention is being focused on SLCFs due to their high potential for mitigating climate change over a short time period. Direct and indirect effects of the SLCFs on the climate are imperative to understand as air quality, water quality, and climate policies are developed and implemented.

One SLCF of special interest is black carbon (BC), as its emission causes a direct positive radiative forcing (RF). The terminology used to define BC in the past is based on source processes, morphological characteristics, chemical composition, and optical properties (Andreae and Gelencsér, 2006). In this RFA the term “black carbon” is used in a broad manner to include all light absorbing carbonaceous (LAC) substances in atmospheric aerosol (For further explanation of the terminology see Andrea and Gelencsér, 2006, Bond and Bergstrom, 2006, and references therein). The IPCC estimated a direct positive forcing of 0.34±0.25 W m-2 from BC emissions and an additional positive forcing of 0.1±0.1 W m-2 due to BC’s impact on snow albedo (Foster et al., 2007). A more recent study estimates the total BC forcing to be 0.9 W m-2, which is 55% of the RF caused by CO2 and a greater forcing than all other SLCFs (Ramanathan and Carmichael, 2008). The short lifetime of BC in the atmosphere means reducing BC emissions could have a large effect on reducing anthropogenic RF in the near term. Bond, 2007 argues that reducing BC emissions should be a viable part of decreasing global warming but Ramanathan and Carmichael, 2008 caution that due to BC’s vertical redistribution of solar forcing, a direct RF comparison to CO2 may not be appropriate. Several scientific and policy-related questions must be answered in order to determine the effectiveness of BC mitigation in the climate and air quality context.

In order to determine the climate and air quality impacts of BC and implement effective mitigation strategies, a robust global emission inventory is needed. Currently, a large uncertainty exists in the global emissions inventory of BC. Compiling a global BC inventory is difficult due to varying emissions among similar sources, varying measurement techniques, different size cut off points, and even the definition of BC used within the inventory. The BC inventory from Bond et al., 2004 BC is perhaps the most widely used inventory, estimating a global annual emission of 8.0 Tg (38% from fossil fuel, 20% from biofuel, and 42% from open burning). This inventory has a total uncertainty of about a factor of two. A recent study by Koch et al., 2009 shows that most global aerosol models are biased high compared to surface BC measurement but are biased low for the total vertical column of BC in the atmosphere. This leads to questions regarding bottom-up versus top-down estimates of black carbon emission and inventory. There is a great need to reduce the uncertainty in the BC emission inventory by developing techniques to measure BC emissions from specific sources (biomass burning, ships, air travel, oil and gas flares, and low-technology combustion, i.e. domestic cooking) and tools to extrapolate BC emissions to a global scale. When considering BC emission reductions, an additional two factors must be considered in order to determine the impact emissions reduction would have on climate change. The first is emissions of related co-pollution such as organic carbon (OC). The BC to OC ratio is important in determining the overall climate effects that would result due to BC emission controls because OC is estimated to have a negative direct radiative forcing (-0.05±0.5 for OC from fossil fuel (Forster et al., 2007). The second factor is the resulting mixing state of the BC aerosol because whether or not the particle is externally or internally mixed can change its radiative properties (Jacobson, 2001, Chung et al, 2005). Both scientific and policy applications suggest a better emissions inventory and characterization of emissions is an area where uncertainties can be reduced and result in significant improvement in the ability to predict and assess net benefits of BC mitigation policies on a global to local scale.

In addition to large uncertainties in the global emission inventory of BC, much uncertainty remains on the regional to global climate impacts of BC. Due to the nature of BC, it has opposing effects of adding energy to the atmosphere and reducing it at the surface. BC is estimated to result in a negative RF at the surface of -1.7 W m-2 due to surface dimming and a warming of 2.6 W m-2 in the atmosphere by direct solar radiation absorption and by absorbing solar radiation reflected from the surface-atmosphere-cloud system resulting in a top-of-the-atmosphere (TOA) RF of 0.9 W m-2 (Ramanathan and Carmichael, 2008). Other studies provide other TOA RF estimates for BC with an overall range of 0.3 W m-2 to 1.0 W m-2 (Haywood et al., 1995, Jacobson et al., 2001, Chung and Seinfeld, 2002, and Sato et al., 2003). The wide range in the TOA RF of BC is attributed to the choice of emissions inventory, the model used for analysis, the treatment of internal versus external mixed aerosol, aerosol optical properties, the BC to organic carbon (OC) ratio, and atmospheric transport (both vertically and horizontally) in the model formulation.

The vertical and global distribution of BC is known to have a strong influence on regional climate effects. Over highly reflective surfaces such as snow, ice, and clouds, BC causes a positive feedback by reducing ice and snow cover, which reduces the surface albedo and leads to more absorption of solar radiation (Warren and Wiscombe, 1980; Ramaswamy et al., 2001; Hansen and Nazarenko, 2004; Chung et al, 2005). This positive feedback loop is believed to have caused 0.5 to 1.4 ˚C of warming in the Arctic since 1890, Shindell, 2009, and is shown to have an impact on snow melt and stream flows in the Western United States, Qain et al. 2009. In regions with a strong radiative-convective system (equatorial regions during wet season), BC will cause a warming at the surface and in the atmosphere. In areas where the radiative-convective system (dry season in the tropics) is weaker, surface dimming can lead to cooling at the surface and mask surface greenhouse warming but lead to a warming of the troposphere, Krishan et al., 2002. It is believed that the atmospheric heating and dimming by BC can perturb regional circulation patterns and affect monsoon rainfall patterns (Ramanathan and Carmichael, 2008). There is also much uncertainty the role BC plays in cloud albedo and cloud lifetime effects and their resulting impact on regional and global climate change. The regional climate impacts of BC and its influence on the hydrological cycle need to be more thoroughly investigated.

Less uncertainty in the BC global emission inventory and a better understanding of the regional climate effects of BC will also help guide where to best implement mitigation strategies in a global context. It has been shown that atmospheric brown clouds (ABCs) containing sub micron absorbing particles are transported across continents and ocean basins, Ramanathan et al., 2008. This finding was also supported by a recent NAS report on intercontinental transport that states both observations and modeling studies confirm trans-oceanic and trans-continental air pollution plumes, which are caused by meteorological conditions on the east coast of both Asia and North America that loft pollutants into the free troposphere, where the air masses can be transported long distances, Global Sources, 2009. Transport of BC from North America and Europe to the Arctic leads to a surface temperature increase of 0.5˚C in the spring, Quinn et al., 2008. Although trans-continental and trans-oceanic transport of pollutants clearly occurs, conclusions about the overall sources, fluxes, and subsequent attribution of BC on local to regional air pollution and climate are highly uncertain. The models are limited by the uncertainty in emission inventories, incomplete understanding and implementation of atmospheric processes of pollutants from emissions to deposition, poor characterization and evaluation of atmospheric vertical profile and transport, and the lack of monitoring sites for long term evaluation of models. Improving model predictions, understanding of model performance, and the climate and air quality impacts from BC, related co-pollutants, and other SLCF policies on a global to local scale is imperative.

In addition to being a climate forcer, BC causes respiratory and cardiovascular health effects. Jensen et al., 2005 found exposure to BC increases fraction exhaled nitric oxide, a measure of airway inflammation. Mordukhovich et al., 2009 show that BC emissions are directly related to elevated blood pressure, a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. In addition, BC is a component of particulate matter (PM2.5), a criteria pollutant under the Clean Air Act. The contribution of BC to PM is dependent on its source, which varies both geographically and temporally, but is thought to be on the scale of 5 – 10% of total PM (US EPA, 2009). An integrated study by U.S. EPA, 2009 shows a casual relationship exists between short-term exposure to PM2.5 and cardiovascular effects, respiratory effects, and mortality. The integrated study also shows long-term exposure to PM2.5 has a casual relationship to cardiovascular effects, respiratory effects and mortality and suggests a casual relationship to reproductive and developmental outcomes, and cancer. Therefore, emission controls of BC will have a positive impact on human health and will also likely reduce emissions of other sources of PM resulting in a co-benefit of PM reductions.

Ultimately, reducing uncertainty and improving the tools and understanding for providing answers to the aforementioned scientific questions regarding BC are necessary when considering the impacts of policies to mitigate emission of BC, related co-pollutants, and other SLCFs. Specifically, metrics are a desirable tool for developing and assessing mitigation policies, Forster et al., 2007. One emission metric that is currently being used in the climate context is the Global Warming Potential (GWP), which determines the time-integrated global mean RF of a greenhouse gas compared to that of CO2, whose GWP is one by definition, over a 100-year time period (IPCC 1990). Another metric is the Global Temperature Potential (GTP) that examines the resulting temperature reduction at the end of a 100-year time period. However, emission reductions of BC likely provide an immediate reduction in anthropogenic warming on shorter temporal and spatial scales than mitigation strategies for LLGHGs that are effective on longer time scales and over global spatial scales. Other metrics are being developed to look at a shorter time scale than 100 years by examining pulse estimates of the above metrics and other metrics to related SLCFs to LLGHGs (Berntsen et al., 2006, Bond, 2007, Boucher and Reddy, 2008, Shine et al, 2007, and references therein). In addition, the GWP and GTP do not take into account the health benefits that are likely to be associated with BC emission controls. Therefore, metrics need to be developed that enable policy makers to consider not only the impact of SLFCs on climate effects across varying time and geographical scales but also to include the related benefits to improving air quality and reducing the related health and welfare impacts. The development of such metrics is essential in order to consider the impacts and co-benefits of BC and other SLCFs mitigation policies in the simultaneous context of both climate change and air quality.

The specific Strategic Goal and Objective from the EPA’s Strategic Plan that relate to this solicitation are:

    Goal 4: Healthy Communities and Ecosystems, Objective 4.4: Enhance Science and Research,

The EPA’s Strategic Plan can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/plan/2006/entire_report.pdf (PDF) (184 pp, 9.87 MB, about PDF)

C. Authority and Regulations
The authority for this RFA and resulting awards is contained in the Clean Air Act, Section 103, 42 U.S.C. 7403

For research with an international aspect, the above statutes are supplemented, as appropriate, by the National Environmental Policy Act, Section 102(2)(F).

Applicable regulations include: 40 CFR Part 30 (Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations), 40 CFR Part 31 (Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local Governments) and 40 CFR Part 40 (Research and Demonstration Grants). Applicable OMB Circulars include: OMB Circular A-21 (Cost Principles for Educational Institutions) relocated to 2 CFR Part 220, OMB Circular A-87 (Cost Principles for State, Local and Indian Tribal Governments) relocated to 2 CFR Part 225, OMB Circular A-102 (Grants and Cooperative Agreements With State and Local Governments), OMB Circular A-110 (Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Other Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals and Other Non-Profit Organizations) relocated to 2 CFR Part 215, and OMB Circular A-122, (Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations) relocated to 2 CFR Part 230.

D. Specific Research Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes
Applications for this solicitation must address black carbon and one or more of the topics listed below within the context of climate change and air quality:

  1. What improvements can be developed and demonstrated in understanding sources, source sectors, chemical composition, physical properties, and quantities of BC, related co-pollutants, and other SLCFs in the global to regional scale emission inventories? Emissions quantification and characterization should be comparable across source measurements, inventory amounts, ambient models, and ambient measurements. Research proposals should consider current emissions and projections of the future on the scale from a decade to a century.
  2. How can modeling tools quantify and evaluate regional scale climate and air quality effects (such as net radiative forcing, albedo effect, impact on water resources, regional atmospheric circulation, impacts upon human health, and others) of BC, related co-pollutants and other SLCFs? Can the modeling tools quantify these effects and their uncertainties by source sector and geographic locale?
  3. What are the impacts of long range transport of BC, related co-pollutants and other SLCFs on air quality and regional climate forcing? What sources or source sectors contribute to those impacts? How does the uncertainty in the global inventory of these species affect the calculated impacts?
  4. What metrics can be used to simultaneously evaluate short term climate and air quality impacts of BC, related co-pollutants, and other SLCFs? How can these metrics be used to compare SLCFs amongst themselves and/or SLCFS to LLGHG in the climate and air quality contexts?

Research teams that involve non-federal decision makers in the design and demonstration of enhanced tools are encouraged.

The outputs of the proposed projects include reports, presentations, and peer-reviewed journal publications describing the consequences of global change on air quality and the role of black carbon in the coupled climate and air quality systems. The expected outcome of this research is improved information and understanding regarding the ways changing climate affects air quality and the ways air quality affects global to regional scale climate that will, in turn, lead to better analysis and decision-making.

Note to applicant: The term “output” means an environmental activity or effort, and associated work products, related to a specific environmental goal(s), (e.g., testing a new methodology), that will be produced or developed over a period of time under the agreement. The term “outcome” means the result, effect, or consequence that will occur from the above activit(ies) that is related to an environmental, behavioral, or health-related objective.

E. References

  1. Andreae, M.O. and A. Glencsér (2006), Black carbon or brown carbon?  The nature of light-absorpbing carbonaceous aerosols, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 6, 3131-3148.
  2. Berntsen, T., J. Fuglestvedt, G. Myhre, F. Stordal, and T.F. Berglen, (2006), Abatement of greenhouse gases: Does location matter? Climatic Change, 74, 4, 377-411.
  3. Bond, T.C. (2007), Can warming particles enter global climate discussions. Environ. Res. Lett., 2, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/2/4/045030.
  4. Bond, T.C. and R.W. Bergstrom (2006), Light Absorption by Carbonaceous Particles: An Investigative Review, Aerosol Sc. and Tech., 40, 27-67.
  5. Bond, T. C., D. G. Streets, K. F. Yarber, S. M. Nelson, J.-H. Woo, and Z. Klimont (2004), A technology-based global inventory of black and organic carbon emissions from combustion, J. Geophys. Res., 109, D14203, doi:10.1029/2003JD003697.
  6. Boucher, O. and M.S. Reddy (2008), Climate trade-off between black carbon and carbon dioxide emissions. Energy Policy, 36, 193-200.
  7. Chung, S. H., and J. H. Seinfeld  (2002), Global distribution and climate forcing of carbonaceous aerosols, J. Geophys. Res., 107, D19, 4407, doi:10.1029/2001JD001397.
  8. Chung, S. H., and J. H. Seinfeld (2005), Climate response of direct radiative forcing of anthropogenic black carbon, J. Geophys. Res., 110, D11102, doi:10.1029/2004JD005441.
  9. Forster, P., V. Ramaswamy, P. Artaxo, T. Berntsen, R. Betts, D.W. Fahey, J. Haywood, J. Lean, D.C. Lowe, G. Myhre, J. Nganga, R. Prinn, G. Raga, M. Schulz and R. Van Dorland, (2007), Changes in Atmospheric Constituents and in Radiative Forcing. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M.Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
  10. Hansen, J. and L. Nazarenko (2004), Soot climate forcing via snow and ice albedos. Proc. Nat. Academy of Sci., 101, 2, 423-428.
  11. Haywood, J.M. and K.P. Shine (1995), The effect of anthropogenic sulfate and soot aerosol on the clear planetary radiation budget. Geophys. Res. Lett., 22, 5, 603-606.
  12. IPCC, (2007): Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp. 996.
  13. IPCC, 2009: Meeting Report of the Expert Meeting on the Science of Alternative Metrics [Plattner, G.-K., T.F. Stocker, P. Midgley and M. Tignor (eds.)]. IPCC Working Group I Technical Support Unit, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland, pp. 75.
  14. Jacobson, M.Z. (2001), Strong radiative heating due to the mixing state of black carbon in atmospheric aerosol. Nature, 409, 6821, 695-697.
  15. Jansen, K.L., T.V. Larson, J.Q. Koenig, T.F. Mar, C. Fiels, J. Stewart, and M. Lippmann (2005), Association between Health Effect and Particulate Matter and Black Carbon in Subjects with Respiratory Disease,  Environmental Health Perspectives, 113, 12, 1741-1746.
  16. Koch, D. et al., (2009), Evaluation of black carbon estimations in global aerosol models. Atm. Chem and Phys., 9, 9001-9026.
  17. Krishnan, R. & V. Ramanathan (2002), Evidence of surface cooling form absorbing aerosol.Geophys. Res. Lett., 29, doi: 10.1029/2002GL014687.
  18. Mordukhovich, I., E. Wilker, H. Suh, R. Wright, D. Sparrow, P. Vokonas, and J. Schwartz, (2009), Black Carbon Exposure, Oxidative Stress Genes, and Blood Pressure in a Repeated-Measures Study, Environmental Health Perspectives, 117, 11, 1767-1772.
  19. National Academy of Science (2009), Global Sources of Local Pollution: An Assessment of Long-Range Transport of Key Air Pollutants to and from the United States. The National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. USA, pp. 234.
  20. Qian Y, WI Gustafson, Jr, LYR Leung, and SJ Ghan (2009), Effects of soot-induced snow albedo change on snowpack and hydrological cycle in western United States based on Weather Research and Forecasting chemistry and regional climate simulations, J. Geophys. Res., 114, D03108, doi:10.1029/2008JD011039.
  21. Quinn, P.K., T.S. Bates, E. Baum, N. Doubleday, A.M. Fiore, M. Flanner, A. Fridlind, T.J. Garrett, D. Koch, S. Menon, D. Shindell, A. Stohl, and S.G. Warren (2008), Short-lived pollutants in the Arctic: their climate impact and possible mitigation strategies, Atm. Chem. and Phys., 8, 1723-1735.
  22. Ramanathan V. and G. Carmichael (2008), Global and regional climate changes due to black carbon. Nature Geoscience, 1, 4, 221-227.
  23. Ramaswamy, V. et al., 2001: Radiative forcing of climate change. In: Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis.  Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Houghton, J.T. et al., (eds.)].  Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY USA, pp. 349-416.
  24. Sato, M., J. Hansen, D. Koch, A. Lacis. R. Ruedy, O. Dubovik, B. Holben, M. Chin, and T. Novakove (2003), Global atmospheric black carbon inferred from AERONET. Proc. Nat. Academy of Sci., 100, 11, 6319-6324.
  25. Shindell, D. & G. Faluvegi (2009), Climate response to regional radiative forcing during the twentieth century. Nature Geoscience, 2, doi:10.1038/ngeo473.
  26. Shine, K.P., T.K. Berntsen, J.S. Fuglestvedt, R.B. Skeie, and N. Stuber (2007), Comparing the climate effect of emissions of short- and long-lived climate agents, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society a-Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences, 365, 1856, 1903-1914.
  27. U.S. EPA. (2009), Integrated Science Assessment for Particulate Matter (Final Report).  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DD, EPA/600/R-08/139F.
  28. Warren, S.G. and Wiscombe, W.J., 1980. A model for the spectral albedo of snow 2. Snow containing atmospheric aerosols. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 37, 12,  2734-2745.

F. Special Requirements
Agency policy and ethical considerations prevent EPA technical staff and managers from providing applicants with information that may create an unfair competitive advantage.  Consequently, EPA employees will not review, comment, advise, and/or provide technical assistance to applicants preparing applications in response to EPA RFAs.  EPA employees cannot endorse any particular application.

Multiple Investigator applications may be submitted as: (1) a single Lead Principal Investigator (PI) application with Co-PI(s) or (2) a Multiple PI application (with a single Contact PI).  If you choose to submit a Multiple PI application, you must follow the specific instructions provided in Sections IV. and V. of this RFA.  For further information, please see the EPA Implementation Plan for Policy on Multiple Principal Investigators (http://rbm.nih.gov/toolkit.htm).

Please note: Early career projects will not accommodate a Multiple PI application. Early career projects shall be submitted as a single Lead PI application.  Special eligibility criteria apply to the early career portion of this RFA. Please see Section III of this RFA for details on the early career eligibility criteria.

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.

These awards 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, a Geographic Positioning System (GPS), remote sensing, mapping, charting, and surveying technologies, or statistical data.

II. AWARD INFORMATION

It is anticipated that a total of approximately $7 million will be awarded under this announcement, depending on the availability of funds and quality of applications received.  The EPA anticipates funding approximately 6 regular awards and 3 early career awards under this RFA.  Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $900,000 for regular awards and $450,000 for early career awards, including direct and indirect costs, will not be considered.  The total project period requested in an application submitted for this RFA may not exceed 3 years.  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 to make additional awards under this announcement, consistent with Agency policy, if additional funding becomes available after the original selections are made.  Any additional selections for awards will be made no later than six months after the original selection decisions.

EPA intends to award only grants 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.

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, located at 2 CFR Part 230.  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 to the extent authorized by law.  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.

The early career projects will support new, creative investigators with outstanding promise at the Assistant Professor or equivalent level. Principal investigators from applicant institutions applying for the early career portion of the RFA must meet the following additional eligibility requirements:

  1. Hold a doctoral degree in a field of science or engineering by the closing date of the RFA;
  2. Be untenured at the closing date of the RFA;
  3. By the award date, be employed in a tenure-track position (or tenure-track-equivalent position) as an assistant professor (or equivalent title) at an institution in the U.S., its territories, or possessions. Note: For a position to be considered a tenure-track-equivalent position, it must meet all of the following requirements: (1) the employing department or organization does not offer tenure; (2) the appointment is a continuing appointment; (3) the appointment has substantial educational responsibilities; and (4) the proposed project relates to the employee's career goals and job responsibilities as well as to the goals of the department/organization.

The purpose of the early career project is to fund research by the early career PI. Senior researchers may collaborate in a supporting role for early career projects. Early career applications should not propose significant resources for senior researchers and may not list senior researchers as co-PIs.

Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact William Stelz (stelz.william@epa.gov) in NCER, phone (202) 343-9802.

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

C. Other
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 submitted to EPA (see Section IV.E. “Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements” for further information) 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 in I.C. above.  Generally, a project must address the causes, effects, extent, prevention, reduction, and elimination of air pollution, water pollution, solid/hazardous waste pollution, toxic substances control, or pesticide control depending on which statute(s) is listed in I.C. above.  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 for this solicitation must also address black carbon and one or more of the topics listed below within the context of climate change and air quality in order to be eligible for funding consideration:

  1. What improvements can be developed and demonstrated in understanding sources, source sectors, chemical composition, physical properties, and quantities of BC, related co-pollutants, and other SLCFs in the global to regional scale emission inventories? Emissions quantification and characterization should be comparable across source measurements, inventory amounts, ambient models, and ambient measurements.  Research proposals should consider current emissions and projections of the future on the scale from a decade to a century.
  2. How can modeling tools quantify and evaluate regional scale climate and air quality effects (such as net radiative forcing, albedo effect, impact on water resources, regional atmospheric circulation, impacts upon human health, and others) of BC, related co-pollutants and other SLCFs?  Can the modeling tools quantify these effects and their uncertainties by source sector and geographic locale?
  3. What are the impacts of long range transport of BC, related co-pollutants and other SLCFs on air quality and regional climate forcing?  What sources or source sectors contribute to those impacts?  How does the uncertainty in the global inventory of these species affect the calculated impacts? 
  4. What metrics can be used to simultaneously evaluate short term climate and air quality impacts of BC, related co-pollutants, and other SLCFs?  How can these metrics be used to compare SLCFs amongst themselves and/or SLCFS to LLGHG in the climate and air quality contexts?

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

IV. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

Formal instructions for submission through Grants.gov follow in Section E.

A. Internet Address to Request Application Package
Use the application package available at Grants.gov (see Section E. “Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements”).  Note: With the exception of the current and pending support form (available at http://epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms), all necessary forms are included in the electronic application package.

An email will be sent by NCER to the Lead/Contact PI 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; emails 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 Section E. “Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements” for additional information regarding the application receipt acknowledgment.

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

  1. Standard Form 424

    The applicant must complete Standard Form 424. 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 signature of an authorized representative of the applying organization.

    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.

    Executive Order 12372, Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs, does not apply to the Office of Research and Development's research and training programs unless EPA has determined that the activities that will be carried out under the applicants' proposal (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.

    If EPA determines that Executive Order 12372 applies to an applicant's proposal, the applicant must follow the procedures in 40 CFR Part 29. The applicant must notify their state's single point of contact (SPOC). To determine whether their state participates in this process, and how to comply, applicants should consult http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants/spoc.html. If an applicant is in a State that does not have a SPOC, or the State has not selected research and development grants for intergovernmental review, the applicant must notify directly affected State, area wide, regional and local entities of its proposal.

    EPA will notify the successful applicant(s) if Executive Order 12372 applies to its proposal prior to award.

  2. Key Contacts

    The applicant must complete the Key Contacts form found in the Grants.gov application package. An Additional Key Contacts form is also available at http://epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms. The Key Contacts form should also be completed for major sub-agreements (i.e., primary investigators). Please make certain that all contact information is accurate.

    For Multiple PI applications: The Additional Key Contacts form must be completed (see Section I.F. for further information). Note: The Contact PI must be affiliated with the institution submitting the application. EPA will direct all communications related to scientific, technical, and budgetary aspects of the project to the Contact PI; however, any information regarding an application will be shared with any PI upon request. The Contact PI is to be listed on the Key Contact Form as the Project Manager/Principal Investigator (the term Project Manager is used on the Grants.gov form, the term Principal Investigator is used on the form located on NCERs web site). For additional PIs, complete the Major Co-Investigator fields and identify PI status next to the name (e.g., Name: John Smith, Principal Investigator).

  3. Table of Contents

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

  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. Funding Opportunity Title and Number for this proposal.
    2. Project 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, use more commonly understood terminology. Do not use general phrases such as research on.
    3. Investigators: For applications with multiple investigators, state whether this is a single Lead PI (with co-PIs) or Multiple PI application (see Section I.F.). For Lead PI applications, list the Lead PI, then the name(s) of each co-PI who will significantly contribute to the project. For Multiple PI applications, list the Contact PI, then the name(s) of each additional PI. 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) where 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 proposed project), 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://epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms.
  5. Research Plan, Quality Assurance Statement, Data Plan and References
    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. 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.
      2. Approach/Activities: Outline the research design, methods, and techniques that you intend to use in meeting the objectives stated above.
      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 should also discuss how the research results will lead to solutions to environmental problems and improve the publics ability to protect the environment and human health. A clear, concise description will help NCER and peer reviewers understand the merits of the research.
      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.
      5. Appendices may be included but must remain within the 15-page limit.
    2. Quality Assurance Statement (3 pages)

      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.

      NOTE: If selected for award, applicants will be expected to provide additional quality assurance documentation.

      Address each applicable 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. (Not all will apply.)

      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 persons functions, experience, and authority within the research organization. Describe the organizations 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. Identify the types of secondary data needed to satisfy the project objectives. Specify requirements relating to the type of data, the age of data, geographical representation, temporal representation, and technological representation, as applicable.
          2. Specify the source(s) of the secondary data and discuss the rationale for selection.
          3. Establish a plan to identify the sources of the secondary data in all deliverables/products.
          4. Specify quality requirements and discuss the appropriateness for their intended use. Accuracy, precision, representativeness, completeness, and comparability need to be addressed, if applicable.
          5. Describe the procedures for determining the quality of the secondary data.
          6. Describe the plan for data management/integrity.
        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 methods 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 rational 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.
    3. References: References cited are in addition to other page limits (e.g. research plan, quality assurance statement, data plan)
  6. Budget and Budget Justification
    1. Budget

      Prepare a master budget table using SF-424A Budget Information for Non-Construction Programs (aka SF-424A), available in the Grants.gov electronic application package and also at http://epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms. Only complete Section B-Budget Categories. Provide the object class budget category (a. - k.) amounts for each budget year under the Grant Program, Function or Activity heading. Each column reflects a separate budget year. For example, Column (1) reflects budget year 1. The total budget will be automatically tabulated in column (5).

      If a subaward, such as a subagreement with an educational institution is included in the application, provide a separate SF-424A and budget justification for the subaward. Include the total amount for the subaward under Other in the master SF-424A. Applicants may not use subagreements to transfer or delegate their responsibility for successful completion of their EPA assistance agreement. Therefore, EPA expects that subawards or subcontracts should not constitute more than 40% of the total direct cost of the total project budget. If a subaward/subcontract constitutes more than 40% of the total direct cost, additional justification may be required before award, discussing the need for the subaward/subcontract to accomplish the objectives of the research project. Please see Section IV. D below if your organization intends to identify specific contractors, including consultants, and subawardees in your proposal.

      Please note that institutional cost-sharing is not required. However, if voluntary cost-sharing is proposed, a brief statement concerning cost-sharing should be added to the budget justification.

      Please note that when formulating budgets for proposals/applications, applicants must not include management fees or similar charges in excess of the direct costs and indirect costs at the rate approved by the applicants cognizant audit agency, or at the rate provided for by the terms of the agreement negotiated with EPA. The term "management fees or similar charges" refers to expenses added to the direct costs in order to accumulate and reserve funds for ongoing business expenses, unforeseen liabilities, or for other similar costs that are not allowable under EPA assistance agreements. Management fees or similar charges may not be used to improve or expand the project funded under this agreement, except to the extent authorized as a direct cost of carrying out the scope of work.

    2. Budget Justification [2 pages in addition to the Section IV.B.5. page limitations, not including additions under Nos. (6) and (7) below to support contracts and subawards]

      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: Specify the amount you anticipate expending for services/analyses or consultants and specify the purpose of the contracts and estimated cost. Any procurement of services from individual consultants or commercial firms (including space for workshops) must comply with the competitive procurement requirements of 40 C.F.R. Part 30 or 40 C.F.R. 31.36, as appropriate. Please see Section IV. D below for more details.
      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 subawards, such as those with other universities for members of the research team, are included in this category. Subawards must have a separate itemized budget and budget justification, not to exceed one additional page each, included as part of the proposal. Subawards may not be used to acquire services from consultants or commercial firms. Please see Section IV. D below for more details.
      8. Indirect Costs: If indirect costs are included in the budget identify the cognizant federal audit agency and the approved indirect rate. If your organization does not have a cognizant federal audit agency, please note that in the proposal and provide a brief explanation for how you calculated your indirect cost rate. EPA will negotiate an indirect rate if necessary.
  7. Resumes

    Provide resumes for each investigator and important co-worker. You may include resumes from staff of subawardees such as universities. Do not include resumes of consultants or other contractors unless you have selected them in compliance with the Procurement Standards of 40 C.F.R. Part 30 or 40 C.F.R. 31.36. Please see Section IV.D below for more details. 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://epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms) for each investigator and important co-worker. Include all current and pending research regardless of source.

    Note to all prospective applicants requiring multiple Current and Pending Support Form pages: Due to a limitation in Adobe Acrobat's forms functionality, additional pages cannot be directly inserted into the original PDF form and preserve the form data on the subsequent pages. Multiple page form submissions can be created in Acrobat 8 and later using the "PDF Package" option in the "Create PDF from Multiple Files" function. If you have an earlier version of Adobe Standard or Professional, applicants will need to convert each PDF page of the form to an EPS (Encapsulated Post Script) file before creating the PDF for submission. The following steps will allow applicants with earlier versions of Adobe Standard or Professional to create a PDF package:

    1. Populate the first page of the PDF, and save it as a EPS (Encapsulated Post Script) file.
    2. Reopen the form, and populate it with the data for page 2. Save this page as a different EPS file. Repeat for as many pages as necessary.
    3. Use Acrobat Distiller to convert the EPS files back to PDF.
    4. Open Acrobat Professional, and combine the individual pages into a combined PDF file.
  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. EPA employees are not permitted to provide letters of intent for any application.

      Letters of support do not commit a resource vital to the success of the proposal. A letter of support is written by businesses, organizations, or community members stating their support of the applicant's proposed project. EPA employees are not permitted to provide letters of support for any application.

      Note: Letters of intent or support must be part of the application; letters submitted separately will not be accepted. Any letter of intent or support that exceeds one brief paragraph (excluding letterhead and salutations), is considered part of the Research Plan and is included in the 15-page Research Plan limit. Any transactions between the successful applicant and parties providing letters of intent or support financed with EPA grant funds are subject to the funding restrictions described in Section IV. D. as well.

    2. Funding Opportunity Number(s) (FON)

      At various places in the application, applicants are asked to identify the FON.

      The Funding Opportunity Number for this RFA is:

        Black Carbons Role in Global to Local Scale Climate and Air Quality: EPA-G2010-STAR-L1
        Early Career Projects: Black Carbons Role in Global to Local Scale Climate and Air Quality: EPA-G2010-STAR-L2

      Applicants must select the FON corresponding to either the regular award or the early career award. It is the responsibility of the applicant to identify the proper FON. Failure to do so could result in an inappropriate peer review assignment. Each application must be submitted using a single FON.

    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 their application/proposal package as confidential business information. EPA will evaluate confidentiality claims in accordance with 40 CFR Part 2. Applicants must clearly mark applications/proposals or portions thereof that they claim as confidential. If no claim of confidentiality is made, EPA is not required to make the inquiry to the applicant otherwise required by 40 CFR 2.204(c)(2) prior to disclosure. However, competitive proposals/applications are considered confidential and protected from disclosure prior to the completion of the competitive selection process.

C. Submission Dates and Times
Applications must be transferred to Grants.gov no later than 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date.  Applications transferred 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 solicitation closing date, a new date will be posted on the NCER web site (http://epa.gov/ncer/rfa/)
and a modification posted on www.grants.gov. 

Solicitation Closing Date: September 22, 2010, 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time (applications must be submitted to Grants.gov by this time, see Section IV.E “Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements” for further information).

NOTE: Customarily, applicants are notified about evaluation decisions within six months of the solicitation closing date.  Awards are generally made 9-12 months after the solicitation closing date.

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(s).

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.

EPA awards funds to one eligible applicant as the recipient even if other eligible applicants are named as partners or co-applicants or members of a coalition or consortium.  The recipient is accountable to EPA for the proper expenditure of funds.

Funding may be used to provide subgrants or subawards of financial assistance, which includes using subawards or subgrants to fund partnerships,  provided the recipient complies with applicable requirements for subawards or subgrants including those contained in 40 CFR Parts 30 or 31, as appropriate.   Applicants must compete contracts for services and products, including consultant contracts, and conduct cost and price analyses to the extent required by the procurement provisions of the regulations at 40 CFR Parts 30 or 31, as appropriate. The regulations also contain limitations on consultant compensation. Applicants are not required to identify subawardees/subgrantees and/or contractors (including consultants) in their proposal/application.  However, if they do, the fact that an applicant selected for award  has named a specific subawardee/subgrantee, contractor, or consultant in the proposal/application EPA selects for funding does not relieve the applicant of its obligations to comply with subaward/subgrant and/or competitive procurement requirements as appropriate.   Please note that applicants may not award sole source contracts to consulting, engineering or other firms assisting applicants with the proposal based solely on the firm's role in preparing the proposal/application. 

Successful applicants cannot use subgrants or subawards to avoid requirements in EPA grant regulations for competitive procurement by using these instruments to acquire commercial services or products from for-profit organizations to carry out its assistance agreement.  The nature of the transaction between the recipient and the subawardee or subgrantee must be consistent with the standards for distinguishing between vendor transactions and subrecipient assistance under Subpart B Section .210 of OMB Circular A-133, and the definitions of subaward at 40 CFR 30.2(ff) or subgrant at 40 CFR 31.3, as applicable. EPA will not be a party to these transactions.  Applicants acquiring commercial goods or services must comply with the competitive procurement standards in 40 CFR Part 30 or 40 CFR Part 31.36 and cannot use a subaward/subgrant as the funding mechanism.  

Section V of the announcement describes the evaluation criteria and evaluation process that will be used by EPA to make selections under this announcement.  During this evaluation, except for those criteria that relate to the applicant's own qualifications, past performance, and reporting history, the review panel will consider, if appropriate and relevant, the qualifications, expertise, and experience of:

    1. an applicant's named subawardees/subgrantees identified in the proposal/application if the applicant demonstrates in the proposal/application that if it receives an award that the subaward/subgrant will be properly awarded consistent with the applicable regulations in 40 CFR Parts 30 or 31.  For example, applicants must not use subawards/subgrants to obtain commercial services or products from for profit firms or individual consultants. 
    2. an applicant's named contractor(s), including consultants, identified in the proposal/application if the applicant demonstrates in its proposal/application that the contractor(s) was selected in compliance with the competitive procurement standards in 40 CFR Part 30 or 40 CFR 31.36 as appropriate.  For example, an applicant must demonstrate that it selected the contractor(s) competitively or that a proper non-competitive sole-source award consistent with the regulations will be made to the contractor(s), that efforts were made to provide small and disadvantaged businesses with opportunities to compete, and that some form of cost or price analysis was conducted.   EPA may not accept sole source justifications for contracts for services or products that are otherwise readily available in the commercial marketplace.

EPA will not consider the qualifications, experience, and expertise of named subawardees/subgrantees and/or named contractor(s) during the proposal/application evaluation process unless the applicant complies with these requirements.

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

If you do not have the technical capability to utilize the Grants.gov application submission process for this solicitation, call 1-800-490-9194 or send a webmail message to http://www.epa.gov/ncer/contact_us.html at least 15 calendar  days before the submission deadline to assure timely receipt of alternate submission instructions.  In your message  provide the funding opportunity number and title of the program, specify that you are requesting alternate submission instructions, and provide a telephone number, fax number, and an email address, if available.  Alternate instructions will be e-mailed whenever possible.  Any applications submitted through alternate submission methods must comply with all the provisions of this RFA, including Section IV, and be received by the solicitation closing date identified above.

Note:  Grants.gov submission instructions are updated on an as-needed basis.  Please provide your Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) with a copy of the following instructions to avoid submission delays that may occur from the use of outdated instructions.

  1. Preparing for Submission. The appropriate electronic application package available through the Grants.gov site must be used for electronic submissions. To begin the application process, go to http://www.grants.gov and click on the Apply for Grants tab on the left side of the page. Then click on Apply Step 1: Download a Grant Application Package to download the compatible Adobe viewer and obtain the application package. For more information on Adobe Reader please go to http://www.grants.gov/help/help.jsp.

    Note:Grants.gov is aware of a corruption issue when Adobe Reader application packages are saved in different versions of Adobe Reader. It is recommended that applicants uninstall earlier versions of Adobe Reader and then install the version available and compatible through Grants.gov.

    The application package may be quickly accessed from https://apply07.grants.gov/apply/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. Note: With the exception of the current and pending support form (available at http://epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms), all necessary forms are included in the electronic application package.

    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. 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. Note for organizations not currently registered: the registration process may take a week or longer to complete. We recommend you designate an AOR and begin the registration process as soon as possible.

    For more information, go to http://www.grants.gov and click on Get Registered.

  2. Acknowledgement of Receipt. The complete application must be transferred to Grants.gov no later than 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date (see Submission Dates and Times). Grants.gov provides 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 Lead/Contact PI and the Administrative Contact. This email will be sent from receipt.application@epa.gov; emails 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 a. through d. below.
    1. Application for Federal Assistance (SF 424): Complete the form except for the competition ID field.
    2. EPA Key Contacts Form 5700-54: Complete the form. If additional pages are needed, see (d) below.
    3. SF-424A Budget Information for Non-Construction Programs: Only complete Section B-Budget Categories. Provide the object class budget category (a. - k.) amounts for each budget year under the Grant Program, Function or Activity heading. Each column reflects a separate budget year.
    4. Project Narrative Attachment Form (click on Add Mandatory Project Narrative): Attach a single electronic file labeled Application that contains the items described in Section IV.B.3. through IV.B.9.a (Table of Contents, Abstract, Research Plan, Quality Assurance Statement, Data Plan, References, Budget Justification, Resumes, Current and Pending Support, and Letters of Intent/Support) of this solicitation. In order to maintain format integrity, 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://epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms) are needed, place them before the Table of Contents (Section IV.B.3.).

    Once the application package has been completed, the Submit button should be enabled. If the Submit button is not active, please call Grants.gov for assistance at 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 or a revised application needs to be submitted. Note: Revised applications must be submitted before the solicitation closing date and time.

  4. Submitting the application. 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 ensure that your application is submitted to Grants.gov BEFORE 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date. The Grants.gov support desk operates 24 hours per day, seven days per week, except Federal Holidays.

    A successful transfer will end with an on-screen acknowledgement. For documentation purposes, print or screen capture this acknowledgement. If a submission problem occurs, reboot the computer turning the power off may be necessary and re-attempt the submission.

    Note: Grants.gov issues a case number upon a request for assistance.

  5. Transmission Difficulties. If transmission difficulties that result in a late transmission, no transmission, or rejection of the transmitted application are experienced, and following the above instructions do not resolve the problem so that the application is submitted to Grants.Gov by the deadline date and time, follow the guidance below. The Agency will make a decision concerning each late submission on a case-by-case basis as to whether it should be forwarded for peer review. All e-mails, as described below, are to be sent to josephson.ron@epa.gov with the FON in the subject line.

    Please note that if the application you are submitting is greater than 70 MB in size, please call or send an e-mail message to the Electronic Submissions Contact listed for this RFA. The Agency may experience technical difficulty downloading files of this size from Grants.gov. Therefore, it is important that the Agency verify that the file can be downloaded. The Agency will provide alternate submission instructions if the file cannot be downloaded.

    1. If you are experiencing problems resulting in an inability to upload the application to Grants.gov, it is essential to call Grants.gov for assistance at 1-800-518-4726 before the application deadline. Be sure to obtain a case number from Grants.gov.
    2. Unsuccessful transfer of the application package: If a successful transfer of the application cannot be accomplished even with assistance from Grants.gov due to electronic submission issues, send an e-mail message by 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date. The email message must document the problem and include the Grants.gov case number as well as the entire application in PDF format as an attachment.
    3. Grants.gov rejection of the application package: If a notification is received from Grants.gov stating that the application has been rejected for reasons other than late submittal, promptly send an email that includes any materials provided by Grants.gov and attach the entire application in PDF format.

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 peer review score.

Individual external peer reviewers 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. Practical and technically defensible approach that can be performed within the proposed time period.
    3. Research contributes to scientific knowledge in the topic area.
    4. Projected benefits of the proposed activity to society, such as improving the environment or human health.
    5. The results are disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding.
    6. The proposal is 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. All key personnel must make a significant time commitment to the project.
  3. Responsiveness: The responsiveness of the proposal to the research needs identified for the research area. The proposal adequately addresses the objectives and special considerations specified by the RFA.
  4. Facilities and equipment: The availability and/or adequacy of the facilities and equipment proposed for the project. Note any deficiencies that may interfere with the successful completion of the research.
  5. Budget: Although budget information does not reflect on the applications 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 final peer review scores of excellent or very good 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.

Those applicants who received final 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 PI’s (in the case of Multiple-PI applications, the Contact PI’s) "Past Performance and Reporting History."  The applicant must provide the EPA Project Officer with information on the proposed Lead/Contact PI's past performance and reporting history under prior Federal agency assistance agreements (assistance agreements include grants and cooperative agreements but not contracts) in terms of: (i) the level of success in managing and completing each agreement, and (ii) history of meeting the reporting requirements under each agreement.

This information is required only for the proposed Lead/Contact 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 three 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 managed and completed; if not successfully managed and completed, provide an explanation.
  6. Information relating to the proposed Lead/Contact 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 Email address (if available).

The purpose of the programmatic review is to ensure 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.
  1. The proposed Lead/Contact PI's past performance [under Federal agency assistance agreements (assistance agreements include grants and cooperative agreements but not contracts) initiated within the last three years that were similar in size and scope to the proposed project] in two areas:  First, in successfully managing and completing these prior Federal assistance projects, including whether there is a satisfactory explanation for any lack of success.  Second, in reporting progress toward achieving results under these agreements, including the proposed Lead/Contact 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 toward achieving the results was not made will also be considered.  Applicants whose proposed Lead PI/Contact 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.

C. Funding Decisions
Final funding decisions are made by the NCER Director based on the results of the peer review and internal programmatic review.  In addition, in making the final funding decisions, the NCER Director may also consider program balance and available funds.  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 and Interagency Agreement Management Division 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 solicitation closing date.  A Peer Review Results document summarizing the scientific review  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 the Lead PI/Contact PI to obtain these materials.  Before or after an award, applicants may be required to provide additional quality assurance documentation.

Non-profit applicants that are recommended for funding under this announcement are subject to pre-award administrative capability reviews consistent with Sections 8b., 8c. and 9d. of EPA Order 5700.8 - Policy on Assessing Capabilities of Non-Profit Applicants for Managing Assistance Awards (http://www.epa.gov/ogd/grants/award/5700_8.pdf (PDF) (10 pp, 42 K)). In addition, non-profit applicants that qualify for funding may, depending on the size of the award, be required to fill out and submit to the Grants Management Office the Administrative Capabilities Form with supporting documents contained in Appendix A of EPA Order 5700.8.

The official notification of an award will be made by the Agency’s Grants and Interagency Agreement Management 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 Award Official for incurring costs more than 90 calendar days prior to award.
  3. Human Subjects: A grant applicant 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 CFR § 26. Studies involving intentional exposure of human subjects who are children or pregnant or nursing women are prohibited by Subpart B of 40 CFR § 26. For observational studies involving children or pregnant women and fetuses please refer to Subparts C & D of 40 CFR § 26. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulations at 45 CFR § 46.101(e) have long required "... compliance with pertinent Federal laws or regulations which provide additional protection for human subjects." EPAs regulation 40 CFR § 26 is such a pertinent Federal regulation. Therefore, the applicant's Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval must state that the applicant's study meets the EPA's regulations at 40 CFR § 26. No work involving human subjects, including recruiting, may be initiated before the EPA has received a copy of the applicants 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://epa.gov/quality/exmural.html#genreqts. 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 located at 2 CFR Part 215 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 NCERs website.

    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.

  7. Acknowledgement of EPA Support: EPAs 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 or another as specified by EPAs project officer:
      This publication [article] was made possible by EPA grant number _______. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the grantee and do not necessarily represent the official views of the EPA. Further, the EPA does not endorse the purchase of any commercial products or services mentioned in the publication.

    A graphic that may be converted to a slide or used in other ways, such as on a poster, is located at http://epa.gov/ncer/guidance/star_images.html. EPA expects recipients to use this graphic in oral and poster presentations.

  8. Exchange Network: EPA, states, territories, and tribes are working together to develop the National Environmental Information Exchange Network, a secure, Internet- and standards-based way to support electronic data reporting, sharing, and integration of both regulatory and non-regulatory environmental data. States, tribes and territories exchanging data with each other or with EPA, should make the Exchange Network and the Agency's connection to it, the Central Data Exchange (CDX), the standard way they exchange data and should phase out any legacy methods they have been using. More information on the Exchange Network is available at www.exchangenetwork.net.

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: William Stelz (stelz.william@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8039
Electronic Submissions: Ron Josephson (josephson.ron@epa.gov); phone: 703-308-0442
Technical Contact: Bryan Bloomer (bloomer.bryan@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8040

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