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Extramural Research

Funding Opportunities

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

Performance and Effectiveness of Green Infrastructure Stormwater Management Approaches in the Urban Context: A Philadelphia Case Study

This is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity.

Funding Opportunity Number: EPA-G2012-STAR-G1

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 66.509

Solicitation Opening Date: September 20, 2012
Solicitation Closing Date: January 8, 2013, 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time

Eligibility Contact: Bronda Harrison (harrison.bronda@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8080
Electronic Submissions: Todd Peterson (peterson.todd@epa.gov); phone: 703-308-7224
Technical Contact: Angela Page (page.angelad@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8046

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 (Forms and Standard Instructions Download Page)
View research awarded under previous solicitations (Funding Opportunities: Archive Page)

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 to conduct research on and demonstration of the performance and effectiveness of green infrastructure (GI) practices at the urban watershed-level.  For this Request for Applications (RFA), the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, specifically the 40,500 acre Philadelphia Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) area, will serve as the geographic study area.  Successful projects should leverage resources and utilize strategic partnerships to address the complexities of urban communities and contribute to a more holistic understanding of the potential of green infrastructure in the urban water cycle.

This solicitation does not provide the opportunity for the submission of applications for projects that involve human subjects research. Human subjects research supported by the EPA is governed by EPA Regulation 40 CFR Part 26 (Protection of Human Subjects). Applications proposing human subjects research will not be considered for funding and will be deemed ineligible.

Human subjects research precluded from this RFA includes:

Projects that collect data from or about humans which meet the regulatory definition of research with human subjects and are thereby subject to the requirements of EPA Regulation 40 CFR Part 26 and EPA Order 1000.17 Change A1.  This includes projects conducted under programs that are not considered research for other purposes. For example, some demonstration programs and some public health practice programs may include research activities.  Projects that utilize surveys about people or contain identifiable private information also constitutes human subjects research and are not allowable under this solicitation.  All applications must include a Non-Human Subjects Research Determination (as described in Section IV.B.5.c) verifying that the proposed research will not involve human subjects.

Award Information:
Anticipated Type of Award: Grant or Cooperative Agreement
Estimated Number of Awards: Approximately 3 awards
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $3 million total for all awards
Potential Funding per Award: Up to a total of $1,000,000, including direct and indirect costs, with a maximum duration of 4 years.  Cost-sharing is not required.  Proposals with budgets exceeding the total award limits will not be considered.

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

Application Materials:
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, Forms and Standard Instructions Download Page. 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, send a webmail message 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 emailed 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: Bronda Harrison (harrison.bronda@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8080
Electronic Submissions: Todd Peterson (peterson.todd@epa.gov); phone: 703-308-7224
Technical Contact: Angela Page (page.angelad@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8046

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

A. Introduction
One of the high-priority research areas identified by the EPA Office of Research and Development (ORD) is the impact of incorporating green infrastructure (GI) as a tool to protect the quantity and quality of water.  EPA hopes the expanded use of GI to protect and restore waters will help create more environmentally and economically sustainable communities.  To accomplish this, EPA recognizes that it will be important for experts from multiple disciplines to work alongside municipal and community-level stakeholders throughout the research and assessment process in order to identify and demonstrate innovative, efficient, and cost effective solutions.  The U.S. EPA is interested in supporting research and demonstration projects proposing to improve the understanding of the performance and effectiveness of green infrastructure, including the combined effects of multiple GI tools, approaches or methodologies in highly urbanized areas.  For the purposes of this RFA, highly urbanized areas tend to be dense communities with a high percentage of impervious surfaces, a high potential for disturbed urban soils, buried infrastructure, and other complicating factors.  Additionally, these communities may also have complex and layered social and political systems.

EPA recognizes that Scientific, Technical, Engineering and Mathematical (STEM) competence is essential to the Nation’s future well being in terms of national security and competitive economic advantage. For instance, the health and vitality of the economy is predicated, in part, on the availability of an adequate supply of scientists, technicians, engineers and mathematicians, to develop innovative technologies and solutions.  In other words, this country must engage all available minds to address the challenges it faces.  Minorities and women historically have been under-represented in the STEM fields. Therefore, the Federal government, including the EPA, should strive to enhance the research and educational capabilities of Minority Academic Institutions (MAIs) and to increase participation by women and under-represented minorities in the STEM fields. As a result, EPA strongly encourages eligible applicants serving communities that have not previously participated in the environmental conversation, including Minority Academic Institutions, as defined in Section I.C., to apply.

For the purposes of this RFA, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) definition is used. The OSTP describes STEM as including physical and natural sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines, topics, or issues (including environmental science education or environmental stewardship) and STEM education as formal or informal education that is primarily focused on physical and natural sci­ences, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines, topics, or issues (including environmental science education or environmental stewardship) (OSTP STEM Education Portfolio, December, 2011). STEM components may also include an interdisciplinary approach, whereby science and math skills and concepts are integrated into an engineering or problem solving process that utilizes appropriated technologies.

Eligible applicants as defined in Section III, including Minority Academic Institutions (MAIs) described below, are strongly encouraged to apply for funding under this competition.  For purposes of this solicitation, the following are considered MAIs:

  1. Historically Black Colleges and Universities, as defined by the Higher Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1061).  A list of these schools can be found at White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities;
  2. Tribal Colleges and Universities, as defined by the Higher Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1059(c)).  A list of these schools can be found at White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities;
  3. Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), as defined by the Higher Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1101a(a)(5).  There is no list of HSIs.  HSIs are institutions of higher education that, at the time of application submittal, have an enrollment of undergraduate full-time equivalent students that is at least 25% Hispanic students at the end of the award year immediately preceding the date of application for this grant;  and
  4. Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), as defined by the Higher Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1059g(a)(2)).  There is no list of AANAPISIs.  AANAPISIs are institutions of higher education that, at the time of application submittal, have an enrollment of undergraduate students that is not less than 10 % students who are Asian American or Native American Pacific Islander.

B. Background
Through the Clean Water Act (CWA), EPA has the responsibility for regulating Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) which are a national problem affecting 32 states (including the District of Columbia).  CSO communities are regionally concentrated in older communities in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions. In a 2004 report to Congress, EPA estimated that about 850 billion gallons of untreated wastewater and stormwater are released each year in the United States (U.S EPA, 2004).  In highly urbanized environments, more than 90% of rainwater may run off impervious surfaces and enter sewer systems.  When the combination of sewage and runoff exceeds the system’s capacity, untreated raw sewage discharges directly to surface streams.  CSOs represent a significant threat to both human health and environmental quality.  Stormwater runoff can also lead to flooding, damage to infrastructure, and erosion of surface streams.

Green Infrastructure refers to the use of more natural approaches and technologies that promote cycling of water through infiltration or evapotranspiration in order to capture and use these resources to restore and maintain natural hydrology.  GI and related innovative technologies are emerging in communities as effective practices to manage wet weather flows.  For these communities, GI can be a cost-effective, flexible, and environmentally-sound tool to manage stormwater runoff as a resource and reduce overflows from combined sewer systems.  Increasingly, cities are becoming interested in using GI to meet Clean Water Act requirements and improve the livability of their neighborhoods.  Mounting data suggests that incorporating GI provides a variety of benefits to the community beyond stormwater management. These benefits are particularly enhanced in urban and suburban areas where green space can be limited and environmental damage may be more extensive.  The EPA Administrator recently issued, A Strategic Agenda to Protect Waters and Build More Livable Communities through Green Infrastructure, that outlines activities to help make GI an available tool to communities for meeting requirements under the Clean Water Act. Conversely, urban communities seeking to adopt GI must also be aware of the challenges and extensive web of collaborations with stakeholders, including multiple city departments and local organizations, planners and developers, necessary to make GI adoption successful. 

In spite of these challenges, several US cities are emerging as GI leaders, eager to incorporate GI as a key component in their plans to meet CWA requirements.  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is one of these cities.  Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters program presents a broad and long-term investment in green stormwater management practices. The city of Philadelphia has one of the oldest sewer systems in the country and serves as a model for the incorporation of GI via its overall stormwater management plan. The city’s sewer system includes both combined sewer systems and separate sewer systems (SSOs).  The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) has developed the Green City, Clean Waters plan Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer (technically known as the CSO Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) Update) that details how the city will invest $1.6 billion during the next 20 years to significantly reduce CSOs.  The Green City, Clean Waters plan relies heavily on GI such as restored stream corridors and wetlands, rain gardens, and green roofs to meet federal requirements for stormwater runoff management. The PWD vision behind the Green City, Clean Waters Plan is to, “unite the City of Philadelphia with its water environment, creating a green legacy for future generations while incorporating a balance between ecology, economics and equity.”  The PWD believes that GI will be an “essential factor in making their vision a reality.” These practices, when fully implemented, will effectively manage most one-inch storms, reducing CSO discharges by 25 billion gallons per year.

The EPA recognizes the importance of the Philadelphia’s Plan and the city’s efforts to reduce CSOs, protect waterways, and enhance community livability. The city’s commitment to using GI, the challenges they face, and their leadership role in helping to move GI forward makes Philadelphia an ideal location to focus GI research and demonstration.  This RFA is focused on the 64 square miles covered by Philadelphia’s Long Term Control Plan for CSO discharges.

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

Goal 2: Protecting America's Waters, Objective 2.2: Protect and Restore Watersheds and Aquatic Ecosystems,

More information can be found in EPA’s FY 2011-2015 Strategic Plan

C. Authority and Regulations
The authority for this RFA and resulting awards is contained in the Clean Water Act, Section 104, 33 U.S.C. 1254.

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

Note that a project’s focus is to consist of activities within the statutory terms of EPA’s financial assistance authorities; specifically, the statute(s) listed above.  Generally, a project must address the causes, effects, extent, prevention, reduction, and elimination of air pollution, water pollution, solid/hazardous waste pollution, toxic substances control, or pesticide control depending on which statute(s) is listed 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.

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, and OMB Circular A-122 (Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations) relocated to 2 CFR Part 230.

Demonstrations must involve new or experimental, technologies, methods, or approaches, where the results of the project will be disseminated so that others can benefit from the knowledge gained in the demonstration project.  A project that is accomplished through the performance of routine; traditional or established practices, or a project that is simply intended to carry out a task rather than transfer information or advance the state of knowledge, however worthwhile the project may be, is not a demonstration.

D. Specific Research Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes
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.

This solicitation is designed to support collaborative and transdisciplinary research partnerships that increase current knowledge of the performance and effectiveness of green infrastructure at the sub-watershed scale in the urban context. Under this RFA, the Agency is soliciting research and demonstration projects to elucidate “high-performing next generation GI practices” that will change how stormwater is managed in urban communities so that it becomes more sustainable.  Proposals must include the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, specifically the 40,500 acre Philadelphia Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) area, as a geographic study area.  Applications must clearly identify the geographical study area(s) of the proposed work.

In addition, applications under this solicitation should address at least two of the following five research areas and should identify key STEM, and environmental education components within their proposed research.  STEM components may also include an interdisciplinary approach, whereby science and math skills and concepts are integrated into an engineering or problem solving process that utilizes appropriated technologies.

Please note: applicants do not need to address all areas of interest.  Doing so does not necessarily make a proposal more competitive.

  1. Using demonstrations, how can Green Infrastructure practices in highly urbanized communities be systematically evaluated in terms of the early benefits, long-term performance effectiveness, and economic viability?
  2. How can cities establish sub-watershed scale approaches to monitor and evaluate both the individual performance and combined effectiveness of GI practices?  What local parameters will affect the scalability and transferability of these approaches?  How can cities use lessons learned from these scaled approaches to guide successful implementation and adaptive management strategies?
  3. How can GI controls for stormwater be designed, built, and maintained through alternative finance mechanisms, especially in underserved and economically disadvantaged areas?  Identify the critical regulatory, credit or incentive, and financial structures which must be in place in order to support alternative financing for GI.
  4. What are the benefits of urban GI to neighborhoods and communities and how can they best be evaluated, both quantitatively and qualitatively, addressing ancillary value, ecosystem services, monetization, neighborhood livability, etc?
  5. What critical steps need to occur and pivotal links need to be established (such as relationships between municipalities and communities) for the successful adoption and implementation of GI practices and approaches within urban communities?

Proposals should reflect a well formed research partnership and propose a holistic research program exploring multiple aspects of urban scale GI.

Definitions:
By using the phrase, “high-performing next generation GI practices,” we emphasize that these practices should be innovative and designed with the latest understanding of GI.  These systems will be cost efficient without unnecessary redundancies and offer advances in performance as compared to conventional systems.  We are expecting applicants to further define the next generation of GI practices through the research activities described in their applications and subsequently pursued if selected for award.

By using the term, “performance,” we refer to the ability of an individual GI practice to capture, infiltrate, and/or evapotranspire water (water quantity reduction) and/or remove nutrients and other pollutants (water quality protection) as designed.

By using the term “effectiveness,” we refer to impact of multiple GI practices on the receiving system.

By using the phrase “highly urbanized” we are emphasizing that these are dense communities with a high percentage of impervious surfaces and a high potential for distributed urban soils, buried infrastructure, and other complicating factors.  These communities may also have complex and layered social and political systems.

Expected Outputs and Outcomes:
The expected outputs of the proposed projects to be awarded under this RFA include reports, presentations, publications, case studies, and other communications that describe the research and demonstration of GI practices, monitoring and management strategies, transferability, and scalability.  Outputs should be targeted to both the general public; K-12 audiences, as well as the scientific and professional communities. The expected outcome of the research and demonstration projects is to provide CSO cities and urban communities and the professional community at large with the ability to reliably and more cost-effectively manage stormwater, reduce CSO’s, and improve urban sustainability resulting in cleaner water and more resilient and livable communities.

Example outputs from this research could include:

  • Reports, presentations, and peer-reviewed journal publications related to GI performance and effectiveness, valuation of benefits, etc.
  • Tools, metrics and technologies that enable an accurate assessment of a GI practice through a consideration of its complete life cycle.
  • Models and methodologies that will provide data for the design of sustainable GI.
  • Development of models to demonstrate planned performance and effectiveness of GI practices nationwide.
  • Development of tools and protocols for urban GI site assessment.
  • Holistic design and adaptive management strategies for green infrastructure.

Example outcomes from this research could include:

  • Increased ability to reliably and more cost-effectively manage stormwater, reduce CSO’s, and improve urban sustainability.
  • Increased adoption of GI in the urban context.
  • Increased community involvement in planning, constructing, maintaining, and monitoring urban GI practices.

Transfer of Results:
Applications should discuss plans to disseminate research results over the life of the project.  Applicants should consider a variety of dissemination methods in order to ensure that the information is provided to residents of traditionally underserved and environmentally disproportionate communities.  Applicants should describe in their Research Plan how they will disseminate results to community members, local stakeholders, watershed organizations, municipalities, state primacy agencies, the EPA, and other potentially interested parties. A desirable outcome is to have a process that facilitates the integration of research activities into the teaching of STEM at all education levels (e.g., K-12, undergraduate and graduate school).

To the extent practicable, research proposals must embody innovation and sustainability.  Innovation for the purposes of this RFA is defined as the process of making changes; a new method, custom or device.  Innovative research can take the form of wholly new applications or applications that build on existing knowledge and approaches for new uses.  Research proposals must include a discussion on how the proposed research is innovative (see Section IV.B.5.a).  The concept of sustainability is based on language in the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA).  This definition is reiterated in Executive Order 13514, Federal Leadership in Environment, Energy, and Economic Performance, stating that the goal of sustainability is to, “create and maintain conditions, under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations.” Research proposals must include a discussion on how the proposed research will seek sustainable solutions that protect the environment and strengthen our communities (see Section IV.B.5.a).  ORD will draw from all of the above-mentioned innovation and sustainability definitions in the review/evaluation process of recommending research proposals (see Section V.A).

E. References
Maryland Environmental Literacy Standards Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer

Philadelphia’s Green City Clean Waters Website. Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer

The White House, Office of Science and Technology Policy, (2011).  The Federal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Portfolio.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, (2012). Draft Environmental Justice and Equitable Development Report.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA’s Environmental Justice Website.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, (2004). 2004 EPA Report to Congress, Impacts and Control of CSOs and SSOs, (EPA 833-R-04-001).

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA’s Green Infrastructure Website

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.

This solicitation does not provide the opportunity for the submission of applications for projects that involve human subjects research.  Human subjects research supported by the EPA is governed by EPA Regulation 40 CFR Part 26 (Protection of Human Subjects).   Applications proposing human subjects research will not be considered for funding and will be deemed ineligible.  Human subjects research precluded from this RFA includes projects that collect data from or about humans which meet the regulatory definition of research with human subjects and are thereby subject to the requirements of EPA Regulation 40 CFR Part 26 and EPA Order 1000.17 Change A1.  This includes projects conducted under programs that are not considered research for other purposes. For example, some demonstration programs and some public health practice programs may include research activities. Projects that utilize surveys about people or contain identifiable private information also constitutes human subjects research and are not allowable under this solicitation.  All applications must include a Non-Human Subjects Research Determination (as described in Section IV.B.5.c), verifying that the proposed research will not involve human subjects.

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.

The application shall include a plan (see “Data Plan” in section IV.B.5.d) to make available to the NCER project officer all data generated (first produced under the award) from observations, analyses, or model development used under an agreement awarded from this RFA.  The data must be available in a format and with documentation such that they may be used by others in the scientific community.

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 $3 million will be awarded under this announcement, depending on the availability of funds, quality of applications received, and other applicable considerations.  The EPA anticipates funding approximately 3 awards under this RFA.  Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $1,000,000, including direct and indirect costs, will not be considered.  The total project period requested in an application submitted for this RFA may not exceed 4 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 may award both grants and cooperative agreements under this announcement.

Under a grant, EPA scientists and engineers are not permitted to be substantially involved in the execution of the research.  However, EPA encourages interaction between its own laboratory scientists and grant Principal Investigators after the award of an EPA grant for the sole purpose of exchanging information in research areas of common interest that may add value to their respective research activities.  This interaction must be incidental to achieving the goals of the research under a grant.  Interaction that is “incidental” does not involve resource commitments.

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

III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

A. Eligible Applicants
Public nonprofit institutions/organizations (includes public institutions of higher education and hospitals) and private nonprofit institutions/organizations (includes private institutions of higher education and hospitals) located in the U.S., state and local governments, Federally Recognized Indian Tribal Governments, and U.S. territories or possessions are eligible to apply.  Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive assistance agreements from the EPA under this program.

Eligible nonprofit organizations include any organizations that meet the definition of nonprofit in OMB Circular A-122, 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.

Foreign governments, international organizations, and non-governmental international organizations/institutions 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, chemical reference standards, analyses, or use of instrumentation or other facilities not available elsewhere.  A written justification for federal involvement must be included in the application.  In addition, an appropriate form of assurance that documents the commitment, such as a letter of intent from the Federal Agency involved, should be included.

Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact Bronda Harrison (harrison.bronda@epa.gov) in NCER, phone 703-347-8093.

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 through grants.gov or by other authorized alternate means (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.  In addition, applications proposing human subjects research will not be considered for funding and will be deemed ineligible.  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. 

Applications that do not include the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, specifically the 40,500 acre Philadelphia Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) area as a geographic study area, will not be considered.

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 Forms and Standard Instructions Download Page), 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 D&B web site. Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer

    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 Intergovernmental Review (SPOC List). 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 Forms and Standard Instructions Download Page. The Key Contacts form should also be completed for major sub-agreements (i.e., primary investigators). Do not include information for consultants or other contractors. 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 NCER’s 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(s): 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 performance site(s)/geographical location(s) where the work will be conducted. Note that applications must include the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, specifically the 40,500 acre Philadelphia Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) area, as a geographic study area.
    6. Project Cost: Show the total funding 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 (outputs/outcomes) 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: Forms and Standard Instructions Download Page.
  5. Research Plan, Quality Assurance Statement, Non-Human Subjects Research Determination, 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. Innovation: Describe how your project shifts current research or engineering paradigms by using innovative theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation or interventions applicable to one or more fields of research.
      4. Sustainability: Describe how your project embodies the principles of sustainability and seeks sustainable solutions that protect the environment and strengthen our communities. The Sustainability Primer (PDF) (2 pp, 195 K) provides examples of research activities that promote and incorporate sustainability principles.
      5. 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 be disseminated and how the results will lead to solutions to environmental problems and improve the public’s ability to protect the environment and human health. A clear, concise description will help NCER and peer reviewers understand the merits of the research.
      6. General Project Information: Discuss other information relevant to the potential success of the project. This should include facilities, personnel expertise/experience, project schedules with associated milestones and target dates, 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.
      7. 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, 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 person’s functions, experience, and authority within the research organization. Describe the organization’s general approach for conducting quality research. (QA is a system of management activities to ensure that a process or item is of the type and quality needed for the project. QC is a system of activities that measures the attributes and performance of a process or item against the standards defined in the project documentation to verify that they meet those stated requirements.)
      2. Discuss project objectives, including quality objectives, any hypotheses to be tested, and the quantitative and/or qualitative procedures that will be used to evaluate the success of the project. Include any plans for peer or other reviews of the study design or analytical methods.
      3. Address each of the following project elements as applicable:
        1. Collection of new/primary data:

          (Note: In this case the word “sample” is intended to mean any finite part of a statistical population whose properties are studied to gain information about the whole. If certain attributes listed below do not apply to the type of samples to be used in your research, simply explain why those attributes are not applicable.)

          1. Discuss the plan for sample collection and analysis. As applicable, include sample type(s), frequency, locations, sample sizes, sampling procedures, and the criteria for determining acceptable data quality (e.g., precision, accuracy, representativeness, completeness, comparability, or data quality objectives).
          2. Describe the procedures for the handling and custody of samples including sample collection, identification, preservation, transportation, and storage, and how the accuracy of test measurements will be verified.
          3. Describe or reference each analytical method to be used, any QA or QC checks or procedures with the associated acceptance criteria, and any procedures that will be used in the calibration and performance evaluation of the analytical instrumentation.
          4. Discuss the procedures for overall data reduction, analysis, and reporting. Include a description of all statistical methods to make inferences and conclusions, acceptable error rates and/or power, and any statistical software to be used.
        2. Use of existing/secondary data (i.e., data previously collected for other purposes or from other sources):

          1. 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 method’s performance.

        4. Development or refinement of models:

          (Note: The data collected for use in the development or refinement of models should be described in the QAS as per the guidance in section 3A and/or 3B above.)

          1. Discuss the scope and purpose of the model, key assumptions to be made during development/refinement, requirements for code development, and how the model will be documented.
          2. Discuss verification techniques to ensure the source code implements the model correctly.
          3. Discuss validation techniques to determine that the model (assumptions and algorithms) captures the essential phenomena with adequate fidelity.
          4. Discuss plans for long-term maintenance of the model and associated data.
        5. Development or operation of environmental technology:

          (Note: The data collected for use in the development or evaluation of the technology should be described in the QAS as per the guidance in section 3A and/or 3B above.)

          1. Describe the overall purpose and anticipated impact of the technology.
          2. Describe the technical and quality specifications of each technology component or process that is to be designed, fabricated, constructed, and/or operated.
          3. Discuss the procedure to be used for documenting and controlling design changes.
          4. Discuss the procedure to be used for documenting the acceptability of processes and components, and discuss how the technology will be benchmarked and its effectiveness determined.
          5. Discuss the documentation requirements for operating instructions/guides for maintenance and use of the system(s) and/or process(s).
      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. Non-Human Subjects Research Determination (1 page)

      This solicitation does not provide the opportunity for the submission of applications for projects that involve human subjects research. All human research studies conducted or supported by EPA are governed by EPA regulations at 40 CFR Part 26 (Protection of Human Subjects). This includes the Basic Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Research Subjects, also known as the Common Rule, at subpart A and additional prohibitions and special protections for pregnant women, nursing women, and children in research conducted or supported by EPA at subparts B, C, and D. Depending upon the type of research being conducted, additional subparts of 40 CFR Part 26 may be relevant. Procedures for the review and oversight of human research subject to 40 CFR Part 26 are also provided in EPA Order 1000.17 Change A1 (PDF) (41, 334 K).

      All applications submitted under this solicitation must include a Non-Human Subjects Research Determination, verifying that the proposed research will not involve human subjects (see definitions below).

      Definitions (from 40 CFR Part 26 Subparts A, B, and C)

      • Human subject means a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research obtains (1) data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or (2) identifiable private information.
      • Intervention includes both physical procedures by which data are gathered (for example, venipuncture) and manipulations of the subject or the subject's environment that are performed for research purposes.
      • Interaction includes communication or interpersonal contact between investigator and subject.
      • Private information includes information about behavior that occurs in a context in which an individual can reasonably expect that no observation or recording is taking place, and information which has been provided for specific purposes by an individual and which the individual can reasonably expect will not be made public (for example, a medical record).
      • Individually identifiable means the identity of the subject is or may readily be ascertained by the investigator or associated with the information.
      • Research involving the intentional exposure of a human subject means a study of a substance in which the exposure to the substance experienced by a human subject participating in the study would not have occurred but for the human subject’s participation in the study.
      • Observational research means any human research that does not meet the definition of research involving intentional exposure of a human subject.

      Non-Human Subjects Research Determination Requirements

      Provide the following statement in your application package verifying that the proposed research will not involve human subjects: “The proposed research does not involve human subjects.” Please use the definitions provided above to ensure consistency in the interpretation of terminology.

    4. Data Plan (2 pages)

      Provide a plan to make all data resulting from an agreement under this RFA available in a format and with documentation/metadata such that they may be used by others in the scientific community. This includes data first produced under the award, i.e., from observations, analyses, or model development collected or used under the agreement. Applicants who plan to develop or enhance databases containing proprietary or restricted information must provide, within the two pages, a strategy to make the data widely available, while protecting privacy or property rights.

    5. 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 Forms and Standard Instructions Download Page. 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 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 applicant’s 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 No. (7) below to support 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, total cost for the budget period, and project role. Compensation paid for employees engaged in grant activities must be consistent with payments for similar work within the applicant organization. Note that for salaries to be allowable as a direct charge to the award, a justification of how that person will be directly involved in the project must be provided. General administrative duties such as answering telephones, filing, typing, or accounting duties are not considered acceptable. Below is a sample computation for Personnel:

        Position/Title Annual Salary % of Time Assigned to Project Cost
        Project Manager $70,000 50% $ 35,000
        Env. Specialist $60,000 100% $ 60,000
        Env. Health Tech $45,000 100% $ 45,000
        Total Personnel $140,000

        Note this budget category is limited to persons employed by the applicant organization ONLY. Those employed elsewhere are classified as subawardees, contractors or consultants. Contractors and consultants should be listed under the “Contractual” budget heading while subawards made to eligible subrecipients are listed under the “Other” budget heading.

      2. Fringe Benefits: Identify the percentage used and the basis for its computation. Fringe benefits are for the personnel listed in budget category (1) above and only for the percentage of time devoted to the project. Fringe benefits include but are not limited to the cost of leave, employee insurance, pensions and unemployment benefit plans. The applicant should not combine the fringe benefit costs with direct salaries and wages in the personnel category.
      3. Travel: Specify the estimated number of trips, purpose of each trip, number of travelers per trip, destinations, 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.

        Below is a sample computation for Travel:

        Purpose of Travel Location Item Computation Cost
        EPA STAR Progress Review DC Lodging 4 people x $100 per night
        x 2 nights
        $800
        Airfare 4 people x $500 round trip $2,000
        Per Diem 4 people x $50 per day
        x 2 days
        $400
        Total Travel $3,200

      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. Details such as the type of equipment, cost, and a brief narrative on the intended use of the equipment for project objectives are required. Each item of equipment must be identified with the corresponding cost. General-purpose equipment (office equipment, etc.) must be justified as to how it will be used on the project. (Property items with a unit cost of less than $5,000 are considered supplies.)
      5. Supplies: “Supplies” means tangible property other than “equipment.” Identify supplies to be used under the project. This may include: software, office supplies, and laboratory supplies such as reagents, chemicals and glassware. 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 CFR Part 30.40-30.48 or 40 CFR 31.36, as appropriate. Please see Section IV. D below for more details.

        Examples of Contractual costs include:

        1. Consultants – Consultants are individuals with specialized skills who are paid at a daily or hourly rate. EPA’s participation in the salary rate (excluding overhead) paid to individual consultants retained by recipients or by a recipient's contractors or subcontractors is limited to the maximum daily rate for a Level IV of the Executive Schedule (formerly GS-18), to be adjusted annually.
        2. Equipment Rental – When there is a need to rent equipment for use on the project, provide information on the type of equipment to be rented, the purpose or use on the project, the length of time needed and the rental rate. Renting or leasing of equipment will require a lease vs. purchase cost analysis prior to approval.
        3. Facility Rental – When it is necessary to rent office or other facilities spaces for project implementation, and the space(s) are located off-site from the organization’s main facility in space not owned by the applicant organization, the cost of the rent may be charged against the award as a contractual expense if the space is used specifically for the project. The budget justifications should provide details on the monthly rental charge and if the rent is pro-rated to the project.
        4. Service or Maintenance Contracts – Costs should be in direct correlation to the use of the equipment for the project (i.e., if a particular machine is used 50% of the time for the project, the project should only be charged 50% of the service/maintenance costs). Provide details of the type of equipment and the amount of the service contract to be paid from EPA funds.
        5. Speaker/Trainer Fees – Information on speakers should include the fee and a description of the services they are providing.
      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. “Other” items may include publication costs, long distance telephone charges, and photocopying costs. 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. 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: Indirect costs are those incurred by the applicant for a common or joint purpose that benefit more than one cost objective or project, and are not readily assignable to specific cost objectives or projects as a direct cost. In order for indirect costs to be allowable, the applicant must have a negotiated indirect cost rate (e.g., fixed, predetermined, final or provisional), or must have submitted a proposal to their cognizant agency. If indirect costs are included in the budget, identify the cognizant agency and the approved indirect rate. If your organization does not have a cognizant agency, please note that in the budget justification and provide a brief explanation for how you calculated your indirect cost rate.
  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. 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 Forms and Standard Instructions Download Page) for each investigator and important co-worker. Do not include current and pending support for consultants or other contractors. 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:

      Performance and Effectiveness of Green Infrastructure Stormwater Management Approaches in the Urban Context: A Philadelphia Case Study, EPA-G2012-STAR-G1

    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.

      EPA recommends that you do not include confidential business information (“CBI”) in your proposal/application. However, if confidential business information is included, it will be treated in accordance with 40 CFR 2.203. Applicants must clearly indicate which portion(s) of their proposal/application they are claiming as CBI. EPA will evaluate such claims in accordance with 40 CFR Part 2. 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. The Agency protects competitive proposals/applications from disclosure under applicable provisions of the Freedom of Information Act prior to the completion of the competitive selection process.

    4. Pre-proposal/Application Assistance and Communications

      In accordance with EPA's Assistance Agreement Competition Policy (EPA Order 5700.5A1), EPA staff will not meet with individual applicants to discuss draft proposals, provide informal comments on draft proposals, or provide advice to applicants on how to respond to ranking criteria. Applicants are responsible for the contents of their applications/proposals. However, consistent with the provisions in the announcement, EPA will respond to questions from individual applicants regarding threshold eligibility criteria, administrative issues related to the submission of the proposal, and requests for clarification about the announcement. In addition, if necessary, EPA may clarify threshold eligibility issues with applicants prior to making an eligibility determination.

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.  EPA will not accept any changes to applications after the closing date.

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 (Funding Opportunities) and a modification posted on Grants.gov 

Solicitation Closing Date: January 8, 2013, 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, send a webmail message 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 emailed 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 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 Grants.com Help Page

    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 Download Application Package 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 Forms and Standard Instructions Download Page), 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 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 email 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 email 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 receipt.application@epa.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, Non-Human Subjects Research Determination, 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 Forms and Standard Instructions Download Page) are needed, place them before the Table of Contents (Section IV.B.3.).

    Please note that applicants are limited to using the following characters in all attachment file names.  Valid file names may only include the following UTF-8 characters: 
    A-Z, a-z, 0-9, underscore ( _ ), hyphen (-), space, period. If applicants use any other characters when naming their attachment files their applications will be rejected by grants.gov.

    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.  Applicants who are outside the U.S. at the time of submittal and are not able to access the toll-free number may reach a Grants.gov representative by calling 606-545-5035.  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 a day, seven days a 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 emails, as described below, are to be sent Todd Peterson (peterson.todd@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 email 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.  Applicants who are outside the U.S. at the time of submittal and are not able to access the toll-free number may reach a Grants.gov representative by calling 606-545-5035.  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 email 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 to Todd Peterson (peterson.todd@epa.gov) with the FON in the subject line within one business day of the closing date of this solicitation.  The email should include 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 appropriate external technical peer reviewers   based on the criteria and process described below.  This review is designed to evaluate each application according to its scientific merit.  The individual external peer reviewers include 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.

Prior to the external technical peer review panel meeting, all reviewers will receive electronic copies of all applications to be reviewed by the entire panel, as well as a full set of abstracts for the applications. Each application will be assigned to a minimum of three primary peer reviewers, one of whom will be assigned the role of Rapporteur. Each reviewer will be assigned up to approximately 10 applications on which to serve as a primary reviewer. During the review period leading up to the panel meeting, primary reviewers will read the full set of abstracts and entire application package for each application they are assigned. They will also prepare a written individual evaluation for each assigned application that addresses the peer review criteria described below and rate the application with a score of excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor. 

At the beginning of the panel meeting, each primary reviewer will report their ratings for the applications they reviewed.  Those applications receiving at least two ratings of Very Good or one rating of Excellent from among the primary reviewers will then be further discussed by the entire panel as described below.  In addition, if there is one Very Good rating among the primary reviewers of an application, the primary reviewer, whose initial rating is the Very Good, may request discussion of the application by the entire peer review panel.  All other applications will be declined for further consideration. 

The panelists will document their evaluation for each application based on the peer review criteria stated below and assign a score (excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor) to each application.  After the discussion of an application by the entire panel, the three primary reviewers may revise their initial ratings and if they do so, this will also be documented.

The final ratings of the primary reviewers and the ratings of the other panelists will then be translated by EPA into the final peer review score (excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor) for the application. This is reflected in a peer review results document developed by the Rapporteur, which combines the individual initial and final evaluations of the three primary reviewers, the non-primary reviewer panelists’evaluation documentation, and may also capture any substantive comments from the panel discussion.   This score will be used to determine which applications undergo the internal programmatic review discussed below.  A peer review results document is also developed for applications that are not discussed. However this document is a consolidation of the three individual primary reviewer initial evaluations, with an average of the three scores assigned by the primary reviewers.           

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 “1h” are 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. The proposed research challenges and seeks to shift current research or engineering paradigms by using innovative theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation or interventions applicable to one or more fields of research.
    5. Projected benefits of the proposed activity to society, such as improving the environment or human health.
    6. The proposed research embodies the principles of sustainability and seeks sustainable solutions that protect the environment and strengthen our communities. The Sustainability Primer (PDF) (2 pp, 195 K) provides examples of research activities that promote and incorporate sustainability principles.
    7. The results are disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding.
    8. 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 application’s scientific merit, the reviewers are asked to provide their view on the appropriateness and/or adequacy of the proposed budget and its implications for the potential success of the proposed research. Input on requested equipment is of particular interest.

B. Programmatic Review
Applications receiving 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 one week 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 (relevance is more important than the Lead/Contact PI's past performance):

  1. The relevance of the proposed science to EPA research priorities.
  2. 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 (outputs/outcomes) 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 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 the 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 and/or submit a revised budget.  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. EPA Order 5700.8 - Policy on Assessing Capabilities of Non-Profit Applicants for Managing Assistance Awards (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.   For example, statutory authorization, funding, or other issues discovered during the award process may affect the ability of EPA to make an award to an applicant.  The award notice, signed by an EPA grants officer, is the authorizing document and will be provided through electronic or postal mail.

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 Dispute Resolution Procedures.  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 Guidance & Frequent Questions 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 of changes may be required from EPA. 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: This solicitation does not provide the opportunity for the submission of applications for projects that involve human subjects research.  Human subjects research supported by the EPA is governed by EPA Regulation 40 CFR Part 26 (Protection of Human Subjects).   Applications proposing human subjects research will not be considered for funding and will be deemed ineligible.  Human subjects research precluded from this RFA includes projects that collect data from or about humans which meet the regulatory definition of research with human subjects and are thereby subject to the requirements of EPA Regulation 40 CFR Part 26 and EPA Order 1000.17 Change A1.  This includes projects conducted under programs that are not considered research for other purposes. For example, some demonstration programs and some public health practice programs may include research activities. Projects that utilize surveys about people or contain identifiable private information also constitutes human subjects research and are not allowable under this solicitation.  The assistance agreement will include a term and condition prohibiting any human subjects research from being performed under the grant award.

  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 first produced under the award 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 the EPA Information Quality Guidelines (EPA IQG) page.  These procedures may apply to data generated by grant recipients if those data are disseminated as described in the Guidelines.

    EPA has the right to obtain, reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the data first produced under the award; and authorize others to receive, reproduce, publish, or otherwise use such data for Federal purposes, under 40 C.F.R. § 30.36(c). In addition, pursuant to 40 C.F.R. § 30.36(d), if EPA receives a Freedom of Information Act request for research data that (1) relates to published research findings produced under an EPA award and (2) was used by the Federal Government in developing an agency action that has the force and effect of law, then EPA shall request, and the award recipient shall provide, within a reasonable time, the research data so that it may be made available to the public through procedures established under the FOIA.

  6. Reporting:  A grant recipient is expected to manage assistance agreement funds efficiently and effectively and make sufficient progress towards completing the project activities described in the research plan in a timely manner.  The assistance agreement will include terms/conditions implementing this requirement.

    A grant recipient must agree to provide annual progress reports, with associated summaries, and a final report with an executive summary.  The summaries will be posted on NCER’s website.

    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 NCER 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: EPA’s full or partial support must be acknowledged in journal articles, oral or poster presentations, news releases, interviews with reporters and other communications.  Any documents developed under this agreement that are intended for distribution to the public or inclusion in a scientific, technical, or other journal shall include the following statement or another as specified by NCER’s 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 Guidance & Frequent Questions.  EPA expects recipients to use this graphic in oral and poster presentations.

  8. Subaward and Executive Compensation Reporting: Applicants must ensure that they have the necessary processes and systems in place to comply with the sub-award and executive total compensation reporting requirements established under OMB guidance at 2 CFR Part 170, unless they qualify for an exception from the requirements, should they be selected for funding.

  9. Central Contractor Registration (CCR)/System for Award Management (SAM) and Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Requirements:   Unless exempt from these requirements under OMB guidance at 2 CFR Part 25 (e.g., individuals), applicants must:

    1. Be registered in the CCR prior to submitting an application or proposal under this announcement. CCR/SAM information can be found at the SAM web site
    2. Maintain an active CCR registration with current information at all times during which it has an active Federal award or an application or proposal under consideration by an agency, and
    3. Provide its DUNS number in each application or proposal it submits to the agency. Applicants can receive a DUNS number, at no cost, by calling the dedicated toll-free DUNS Number request line at 1-866-705-5711, or visiting the D&B website Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer.

    If an applicant fails to comply with these requirements, it will, should it be selected for award, affect their ability to receive the award.

    Please note that the CCR has been replaced by the System for Award Management (SAM). To learn more about SAM, go to SAM Welcome Page or SAM web site.

  10. 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 the Exchange Network website. Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer.

  11. Website References in Solicitation: Any non-federal websites or website links included in this solicitation are provided for proposal preparation and/or informational purposes only.  U.S. EPA does not endorse any of these entities or their services.  In addition, EPA does not guarantee that any linked, external websites referenced in this solicitation comply with Section 508 (Accessibility Requirements) of the Rehabilitation Act.

  12. Unpaid Federal Tax Liabilities and Felony Convictions for Non-Profit and For-Profit Organizations: Awards made under this announcement are subject to the provisions contained in the Department of Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012, HR 2055, Division E. Sections 433 and 434 regarding unpaid federal tax liabilities and federal felony convictions. These provisions prohibit EPA from awarding funds made available by the Act to any for-profit or non-profit organization: (1) subject to any unpaid Federal tax liability that has been assessed, for which all judicial and administrative remedies have been exhausted or have lapsed, and that is not being paid in a timely manner pursuant to an agreement with the authority responsible for collecting the tax liability; or (2) that was convicted (or had an officer or agent of such corporation acting on its behalf convicted) of a felony criminal conviction under any Federal law within 24 months preceding the award, unless EPA has considered suspension or debarment of the corporation, or such officer or agent, based on these tax liabilities or convictions, and determined that such action is not necessary to protect the Government’s interests. Non-profit or for-profit organizations that are covered by these prohibitions are ineligible to receive an award under this announcement.

    EPA anticipates that awards made under this announcement will be subject to the provisions contained in the Department of Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012, HR 2055, Division E. Sections 433 and 434 regarding unpaid federal tax liabilities and federal felony convictions. These provisions prohibit EPA from awarding funds made available by the Act to any for-profit or non-profit organization: (1) subject to any unpaid Federal tax liability that has been assessed, for which all judicial and administrative remedies have been exhausted or have lapsed, and that is not being paid in a timely manner pursuant to an agreement with the authority responsible for collecting the tax liability; or (2) that was convicted (or had an officer or agent of such corporation acting on its behalf convicted) of a felony criminal conviction under any Federal law within 24 months preceding the award, unless EPA has considered suspension or debarment of the corporation, or such officer or agent, based on these tax liabilities or convictions, and determined that such action is not necessary to protect the Government’s interests. Subject to the language in the FY 13 Appropriation Act (or Continuing Resolution), EPA anticipates that non-profit or for-profit organizations that are covered by these prohibitions will be ineligible to receive an award under this announcement.

  13. Unfair Competitive Advantage:  EPA personnel will take appropriate actions in situations where it is determined that an applicant may have an unfair competitive advantage, or the appearance of such, in competing for awards under this announcement.  Affected applicants will be provided an opportunity to respond before any final action is taken.

VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

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

Eligibility Contact: Bronda Harrison (harrison.bronda@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8080
Electronic Submissions: Todd Peterson (peterson.todd@epa.gov); phone: 703-308-7224
Technical Contact: Angela Page (page.angelad@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8046

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