Questions and Answers on State Innovation Grants Solicitation
Q?- Can the font size in footnotes used in the Narrative be less than 11-point (for instance, 10-point), or do the footnotes also have to be the 11-point font size used in the general text?
A! - If the footnotes are not extensive (e.g., page numbers, or a reference citation) you may use 10 point font. If they are extensive text (e.g., a full sentence or more) , they should be kept in 11 point font.
Q? - Has NCEI participated in any meetings with States during the competition period regarding ERP projects?
A! - Yes, on December 8 and 9, 2003, EPA participated in an Environmental Results Program (ERP) workshop hosted by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Other State participants included Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Florida. The Agenda prepared by Michigan DEQ appears as attachment 1 to this answer. The purpose of this workshop was to promote a state-to-state information exchange on ERPs in the autobody sector .
At that meeting, Dr. Greg Ondich, from NCEI made an introductory presentation on EPAs behalf that provided an overview of ERP concepts and identified a number of existing EPA-State ERP collaborations. Dr. Ondichs presentation slides appear as attachment 2 to this answer.
Some of the points that came up in the group discussion included the following:
- The EPA Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation (OPEI) has
a support contract with the Tellus Institute, Boston, MA, to provide
ERP project planning and statistical analysis assistance. Tellus
has worked with nearly a half-dozen states on existing ERP projects;
- OPEI has also provided travel support in the past for state
officials to participate in regional ERP meetings (such as this
one) to promote the state-to-state transfer of this innovation;
- ERP workbook preparation is expensive, costing up to 30 percent
of the total cost of a project. OPEI and the EPA Office of Underground
Storage Tanks (OUST) prepared an Underground Storage Tank (UST)
ERP Workbook. States can customize this workbook to satisfy their
local requirements. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental
Management used a draft version of this Workbook to prepare their
UST compliance assistance workbook;
- OPEI continues to work with the EPA Air Office on issues such
as MACT requirements for area source categories. Currently, the
EPA Air Office is studying whether to exempt six area source categories,
such as dry cleaners, from Title V air permitting requirements.
If the Air Office decides to exempt dry cleaners from permitting
requirements, ERP could be a possible substitute to determine
if these facilities are complying with hazardous air emissions
- The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has been regulating their dry cleaners through ERP for the past six years, so it would be cost effective to build a new State ERP dry cleaner project on existing Massachusetts materials.
Q? - If universities and colleges within a State wanted to develop Environmental Management Systems (EMS), could they collectively write a proposal for a State Innovation Grant?
A? - Only the principal environmental regulatory agency in each
State is eligible to submit a pre-proposal under this solicitation.
However, if the State environmental regulatory agency wanted to
partner with colleges and universities within the State to develop
a sector-based EMS program, then the State Regulatory Agency could
work with the colleges and universities and submit a pre-proposal
on behalf of that team. It is also worth noting that because that
type of a relationship is a collaboration with other State Agencies
(in the case of State-run Universities and Colleges), it would allow
the State to submit a second, non-partnering pre-proposal, as well,
under the rules for this competition.
Q? - We noticed that on the "www.Fedgrants.gov" website, the eligible applicants list is very broad, but in the body of the solicitation it says that only State environmental regulatory Agencies can apply! Which is correct?
A! - Only the principal environmental regulatory agency from each State, the District of Columbia, and the four Territories may apply for this competition. Because of the nature of this current solicitation ("innovation in environmental permitting") we have restricted the eligibility list to the State Agency from each State that runs these permitting programs. We apologize for the confusion in the "FedGrants.gov" announcement.
Q? - How much funding was provided for each of the projects funded in the 2002 Competition?
A! - We selected seven projects from that competition last fall even though we only had enough FY 02 money to award the first 3. Because of delays in the approval of EPA's FY03 budget we announced the last 4 awards at the end of October, 2003 - to be funded with carry-over FY03 money. The final awards on these 4 are still pending because those 4 states are preparing their final proposals and application packages. Those awards will be made when the satisfactory final applications are received - hopefully within a month. The individual awards are as follows:
Massachusetts - $100K
Delaware - $116.5K
Arizona - $ 79K
Illinois - $97K (award pending)
Texas - $75K (award pending)
Colorado - $150K (award pending)
Oregon - $120K (award pending)
When all of the awards are completed that will be $737,500 for
projects (approximate average award = $105,400) funded with FY02 and
FY03 funds. Awards ranged from $75K to $150K.
Q? - Will proposals that address EMS and permitting, or ERP, which are described in the solicitation be scored higher in evaluation than a proposal that addresses other elements of the national Innovation Strategy?
A! - In general, yes. For proposals of equal quality, a proposal for an EMS or ERP-based project would receive a higher evaluation score under the evaluation criteria described in Section 5.2.1 of the solicitation. It would still be possible for a non-EMS or non-ERP-based project to score better than an EMS or ERP proposal based upon how well the other evaluation criteria are addressed in each proposal.
Q? - I understand that there is approximately $1 million to fund approximately 20 awards. Have any of these estimations changed?
A! - In the solicitation we say that there may be "in excess
available" and that we may make "up to 20" awards. It is largely contingent upon the funding we receive in the FY 04 budget that has not yet been passed. The President's FY 04 budget submittal asked for this level of funding and we know that some additional funds are available to us in FY 03 carry-over funding both from our own resources and from the Office of Solid Waste. The final level of funding is contingent upon what Congress approves in the budget. "Up to 20" projects is an optimistic upper limit, assuming full funding, and the level of
funding requested in any combination of awards.
Q? - Also, I understand that there are no match funds required,
it is strongly encouraged to provide one. Does your agency prefer cash
or in-kind contributions?
A! - No match is required. States may provide "leverage"
support in cash or
in-kind (e.g., personnel time). States that provide leverage resources of either type will be evaluated higher under the evaluation criteria identified in the solicitation.
Q! - Has this program been solicited before and if so, what
was the total
funding amount and the number of grants awarded?
A! - The State Innovation Grant program was piloted with a solicitation
in 2002 that resulted in 7 awards, identified on the website http://www.epa.gov/innovation/stategrants/sig2002.htm).
The final four
of those awards were announced in September 2003. Those last four awards were
delayed because we were waiting for FY 03 budget resolution. Once the final four agreements are signed (hopefully some time in December) the final funding total for the 2002 solicitation will be $750,000 -averaging a little more than $100,000 per award.
Q! - How was this solicitation announced?
A! - We announced the release of the solicitation through several different mechanisms:
- The website announcement including the solicitation was posted
late on Thursday evening, 10/30/03;
- On Friday morning (10/31/03), a notification letter was faxed
to the Secretary, Director, or Commissioner of the environmental
regulatory agency in each State, the District of Columbia and
the 4 territories;
- Also on Friday morning, an email notification and a fax notification
were sent to the middle-management or staff-level points of contact
identified by the State commissioners responding to our preliminary
announcement in June, and to State agency contacts identified
in 2002 proposals as well as other interested parties;
- Also on Friday morning, a "Notice of Availability"
appeared in the Federal Register (pp62074-5) that pointed all
interested parties to the website to access the solicitation;
- An announcement on the Federal government's grants information page, "www.grants.gov" was also requested on Friday, October 31.