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Research Grants

Research Training Program for College and University Students

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Risk Management Research Laboratory

Research Training Program for College and University Students

This is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity.

Funding Opportunity Number: EPA-G2016-ORD-C1

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 66.511 - Office of Research and Development Consolidated Research/Training/Fellowships

Solicitation Opening Date: July 1, 2016
Solicitation Closing Date: August 16, 2016, 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time

Technical Contact: Suzanne Jackson (jackson.suzanne@epa.gov); phone: 513-569-7310
Eligibility Contact: Ron Josephson (josephson.ron@epa.gov); phone: 202-564-7823
Electronic Submissions: Debra M. Jones (jones.debram@epa.gov); phone: 202-564-7839

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. Program Components-Specific Areas of Interest & Expected Outputs and Outcomes
  E. Special Requirements
II. AWARD INFORMATION
III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION
  A. Eligible Applicants
  B. Cost Sharing
  C. Other
IV. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION
  A. Grants.gov Submittal Requirements and Limited Exception Procedures
  B. Application Package Information
  C. Content and Form of Application Submission
  D. Submission Dates and Times
  E. Funding Restrictions
  F. Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements
V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION
  A. Technical Review
  B. Funding Decisions
  C. Additional Provisions for Applicants Incorporated into the Solicitation
VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION
  A. Award Notices
  B. Disputes
  C. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Access Standard EPA Forms (How to Apply and Required Forms)

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

Synopsis of Program:

The mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to protect human health and the environment. The EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) conducts timely, mission-relevant, solution-oriented research based on the principles of integrity, sustainability, and responsiveness to the needs of the Nation. ORD’s National Risk Management Research Laboratory’s (NRMRL’s) research portfolio spans the five goals outlined in EPA’s Strategic Plan, and directly supports efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, manage chemical risks, and protect America's water.

EPA-ORD seeks applications from eligible entities to enter into cooperative agreements with EPA that will provide training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students on-site at EPA-ORD research facilities located in Cincinnati, OH.  It is envisioned that the training program will increase both the effectiveness and number of future environmental scientists. The training received under the mentorship of EPA scientists will complement the trainees’ academic coursework. The recipient will be responsible for ensuring that the training projects are supportive of the trainees’ academic training.  Some examples of the fields of study for desirable trainees include, but are not limited to, those majoring in chemistry, engineering, biology, computer science, physical science, life science, ecology, and urban planning.

Award Information:
Anticipated Type of Award: Cooperative Agreement  
Estimated Number of Awards: 2
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $2.5 million total for all awards
Potential Funding per Award: Up to a total of $1.25 million, including direct and indirect costs, with a maximum duration of 3 years.  Cost-sharing is not required.  Proposals with budgets exceeding the total award limits will not be considered.

Eligibility Information:
This solicitation is available to each State, territory and possession, and Tribal nation of the U.S., including the District of Columbia, public and private universities and colleges, hospitals, laboratories, State and local government departments, other public or private nonprofit institutions, and foreign entities. Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive assistance agreements from the EPA under this program. 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.F. “Submission Instructions and other Submission Requirements”).  Note: With the exception of the current and pending support form (available at How to Apply and Required Forms), all necessary forms are included in the electronic application package. Make sure to include the current and pending support form in your Grants.gov submission.

If your organization is not currently registered with Grants.gov, you need to allow approximately one month to complete the registration process. Please note that the registration process also requires that your organization have a unique entity identifier (formerly ‘DUNS number’) and a current registration with the System for Award Management (SAM) and the process of obtaining both could take a month or more.  Applicants must ensure that all registration requirements are met in order to apply for this opportunity through Grants.gov and should ensure that all such requirements have been met well in advance of the submission deadline.  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, see Section IV.A below for additional guidance and instructions.

Agency Contacts:
Technical Contact: Suzanne Jackson (jackson.suzanne@epa.gov); phone: 513-569-7310
Eligibility Contact: Ron Josephson (josephson.ron@epa.gov); phone: 202-564-7823
Electronic Submissions: Debra M. Jones (jones.debram@epa.gov); phone: 202-564-7839

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

A. Introduction

EPA’s ORD seeks to support a Research Training Program for college and university students. The objective of this Request for Applications (RFA) is to support the training of undergraduate and graduate students in research.  The Research Training Program will substantially benefit future environmental scientists and technicians. The goal of the Research Training Program is to increase both the effectiveness and number of future environmental scientists and technicians by allowing trainees to collaborate with senior EPA-ORD scientists while working in a fully operational federal research laboratory. The overall goal is to train the next generation of environmental scientists and engineers to further the Agency’s mission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, manage chemical risks, and protect America's water. Research training will be conducted at EPA’s facilities in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Some examples of the field of study for desirable trainees include (but are not limited to) those majoring in chemistry, engineering, biology, computer science, physical science, life science, ecology, and urban planning. 

EPA recognizes that it is important to engage all available minds to address the environmental challenges the nation faces. At the same time, EPA seeks to expand the environmental conversation by including members of communities which may have not previously participated in such dialogues to participate in EPA programs. For this reason, EPA strongly encourages all eligible applicants identified in Section III, including minority serving institutions (MSIs), to apply under this opportunity.

For purposes of this solicitation, the following are considered MSIs:

  1. Historically Black Colleges and Universities, as defined by the Higher Education Act (20 U.S.C. § 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. § 1059(c)). A list of these schools can be found at American Indian Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities;
  3. Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), as defined by the Higher Education Act (20 U.S.C. § 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. § 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
EPA-ORD’s National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL), located in Cincinnati, OH, is the administering laboratory for the Research Training Program for College and University Students.  As the lead collaborating organization, and EPA’s premiere laboratory for risk management research, NRMRL focuses on environmental problem-solving. Recognized as a national leader in scientific and engineering expertise and capability, NRMRL’s research portfolio spans the five goals outlined in EPA’s Strategic Plan, and directly supports efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, manage chemical risks, and protect America's water.

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

Goal 1: Addressing Climate Change and Improving Air Quality
Objective 1.1: Address Climate Change
Objective 1.2: Improve Air Quality

Goal 2: Protecting America's Waters
Objective 2.1: Protect Human Health
Objective 2.2: Protect and Restore Watersheds and Aquatic Ecosystems

Goal 3: Cleaning Up Communities and Advancing Sustainable Development
Objective 3.1: Promote Sustainable and Livable Communities

Goal 4: Ensuring the Safety of Chemicals and Preventing Pollution
Objective 4.1: Ensure Chemical Safety

The EPA’s FY 2014-18 Strategic Plan can be found at: EPA Strategic Plan

The Research Training Program provides opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to be mentored by EPA scientists at ORD’s organizations in Cincinnati - National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL), National Exposure Research Laboratory (NERL), and National Homeland Security Research Center (NHSRC).  The ultimate goal is to produce environmental scientists and technicians who not only have relevant classroom experience, but who also have research laboratory experience.  Additional background information on collaborating EPA-ORD-Cincinnati organizations providing training experiences under this RFA can be found at the following sites:
NRMRL: About the National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL)
NERL: About the National Exposure Research Laboratory (NERL)
NHSRC: Homeland Security Research

The purpose of this announcement is to request applications to competitively select technically and administratively qualified recipients to develop and administer a year-round research training program.  The Research Training Program will supplement the academic training of the trainees by enabling them to complete mentored projects with EPA scientists in ORD’s world-class federal research laboratories located in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The training can be conducted at any time during the calendar year and may be structured to occur in conjunction with the trainees’ academic studies. Training must be conducted at ORD’s Cincinnati facilities, and the applicant must describe its approach for managing any logistics that are necessary to meet this objective.  The Research Training Program must include: (a) undergraduate students who will gain research experience by working either as summer interns, or throughout academic quarters/semesters with EPA-ORD scientists (mentors) on a part-time or full-time schedule, and (b) graduate students, enrolled in Masters or Ph.D. programs, who will receive training in EPA research and will undertake more substantial research projects in collaboration with EPA and university scientists on a part-time or full-time schedule. Applications that do not propose the training and mentoring of both undergraduate and graduate students will not be considered. In order for the training program to be effective and valuable, regular interaction with EPA mentors at EPA-ORD’s Cincinnati facilities is expected over the term of their appointment. Applications that do not propose trainee participation at EPA-ORD’s Cincinnati facilities will not be considered. Research themes for training opportunities will be identified by EPA-ORD-Cincinnati in collaboration with the recipient.  These themes will primarily reflect research priorities and funding availability at ORD-Cincinnati organizations and include, but are not limited to, research in pollution prevention and green chemistry; research of biological, physical and chemical remediation, ecosystem research; and environmental research of watersheds, drinking water and wastewater.  Projects that are consistent with EPA-ORD-Cincinnati’s research themes and suitable for training students will be developed by the recipient.  Some examples of the desired areas of study for trainees include, but are not limited to, chemistry, engineering, biology, computer science, physical science, life science, ecology, and urban planning.  The objective of the training program is not to provide products or services for EPA’s direct use or augment its workforce. EPA will not participate in the trainee selection process or otherwise assume any supervisory responsibilities regarding the trainees selected by the recipient.

It is envisioned that the training program will increase both the effectiveness and number of future environmental scientists. The training received under the mentorship of EPA scientists will complement the trainees’ academic coursework.  The recipient will be responsible for ensuring that the training projects are supportive of the trainees’ academic training.  Training in professional scientific ethics and quality assurance will typically be provided both by the university and EPA programs. The cooperative training experience would include: problem and hypothesis formulation, experimental design, experiments conducted with EPA-ORD-Cincinnati scientists, data analysis, quality assurance, reporting, presenting results and manuscript development and publication.  

C. Authority and Regulations

The authority for this RFA and resulting awards is contained in the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7403, Section 103(b)(3), the Safe Drinking Water Act, 42 U.S.C. 300j-1, Section 1442(c)(3)(A), the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. 1254, Section 104(b)(3), and the Solid Waste Disposal Act, 42 U.S.C. 6981, Section 8001.

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.  Further note applications dealing with any aspect of or related to hydraulic fracking will not be funded by EPA through this program.

Additional applicable regulations include: 2 CFR Part 200, 2 CFR Part 1500, and 40 CFR Part 45 (Training Assistance).

D. Program Components-Specific Areas of Interest & Expected Outputs and Outcomes
Note to applicant:  The term “output” means an environmental activity, effort, and/or associated work products related to an environmental goal or objective, that will be produced or provided over a period of time or by a specified date.  The term “outcome” means the result, effect or consequence that will occur from carrying out an environmental program or activity that is related to an environmental or programmatic goal or objective.

Program Components
The applicant’s proposed Research Training Program should focus on and address the following components:

  1. The educational and technical merit of the training program should support EPA’s goal of training the next generation of environmental scientists and engineers. The program should provide for a partnership between a successful institution and EPA-ORD-Cincinnati to train a new generation of students who will obtain degrees in the environmental sciences and pursue careers in environmentally-related fields.
  2. The applicant is expected to describe the process and procedures for matching the trainees identified for the training program with the available training opportunities related to EPA-ORD-Cincinnati’s research themes. EPA-ORD-Cincinnati will designate mentors through the EPA Project Officer. After award, the EPA-ORD-Cincinnati Mentors will provide research themes for potential projects to be advertised to ensure a fit between the trainees’ interests and qualifications and the training and research opportunities available at the EPA-ORD-Cincinnati laboratory.  Research themes include, but are not limited to, research in pollution prevention and green chemistry; research of biological, physical and chemical remediation, ecosystem research; and environmental research of watersheds, drinking water and wastewater. 
  3. The applicant should propose how it will provide and manage financial support to trainees. Training must be conducted at ORD’s Cincinnati facilities on a regular basis and the applicant must describe its approach for managing any logistics that are necessary to meet this objective. It is expected that undergraduate trainees will participate by working either as summer interns, or throughout academic quarters/semesters with EPA-ORD scientists (mentors) on a part-time or full-time schedule, and graduate trainees will undertake more substantial research projects in collaboration with EPA and university scientists on a part-time or full-time schedule. The applicant should explain how it will provide scientific oversight for the selected trainees’ development of personal training plans which outline their anticipated learning objectives and the anticipated benefits to their career.  Additionally, the applicant should propose how it will oversee the development of the trainees’ research projects.
  4. The applicant should propose how it will provide guidance and direction to trainees to ensure they are following the health and safety and quality assurance requirements as described by EPA-ORD Mentors while working at the laboratory; accomplishing the required coursework for their chosen degree without undue interference from their research responsibilities; and, receiving the necessary resources to accomplish the proposed research.
  5. The program should be designed to recruit trainees from across the country and should include a discussion of the rationale and process for selecting trainees, including trainees that have an economic disadvantage or that lack exposure to environmental science/environmental information due to underdeveloped environmental science infrastructure at their educational institutions. This process may include partnerships with other institutions.
  6. The applicant should describe how the program will advertise, in as wide a manner as practicable, the traineeships on a competitive basis, and receive, manage, and objectively review applications from students for traineeships. The applicant should describe the selection criteria to be used in the evaluation of potential trainees. Examples of selection criteria are: qualifications, career interests, experience, and academic record.
  7. The applicant should identify an individual who will be designated to serve as the Principal Investigator/Project Manager. This individual should have a scientific background capable of managing a research training program along with administrative experience.

Overall, the recipient, through the activities of the Principal Investigator and/or identified personnel, will be expected to be responsible for:

  • Providing a single point of contact for the EPA Project Officer for all administrative and technical requirements of the cooperative agreement to ensure compliance with the agreement’s terms and conditions;
  • Competitively advertising training opportunities;
  • Managing the evaluation and selection process for the trainees and providing the names and areas of study for the selected trainees in order for the EPA Project Officer to assign a mentor; 
  • Providing scientific oversight for training plans;
  • Developing the research projects (with input from the EPA-ORD Mentor) and ensuring trainees achieve anticipated benefits;
  • Providing comments to the EPA Project Officer regarding progress of research, problems encountered, and solutions taken;
  • Providing guidance and instruction, as necessary, ensuring the trainees follow acceptable scientific methods;
  • Providing progress reports to the EPA-ORD Project Officer;
  • Ensuring traineeship results are incorporated in a final report that summarizes the trainees’ project objectives, approaches, outcomes, and learning experiences; 
  • Providing guidance and assistance in the preparation of scientific publications.
  • Managing all supervisory functions, including, managing time and attendance and record keeping.

Outputs and Outcomes

Outputs from the Research Training Program funded under this RFA are expected to include, but are not limited to:

  • The training of up to 10-20+ trainees per year;
  • Reports that summarize the trainees’ projects, objectives, approaches, learning experiences and budget allocations;
  • Scientific and technical publications in the peer-reviewed literature;
  • Attendance and presentations of data at national and international scientific meetings;
  • Data and information essential to conducting engineering studies.

Examples of expected outcomes include, but are not limited to:

  • Increase in the number of environmental scientists and technicians that have the training and experience to immediately enter the workforce upon graduation;
  • Increase in the number of environmental scientists who can productively contribute to the understanding of the science needed to manage environmental risks;
  • Increase in the overall knowledge and experience of the trainees being mentored and trained.

E. 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.

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.

II. AWARD INFORMATION

It is anticipated that a total of approximately $2.5 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 2 awards under this RFA.  Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $1.25 million, including direct and indirect costs, will not be considered.  The total project period requested in an application submitted for this RFA may not exceed 3years. 

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.

In appropriate circumstances, EPA reserves the right to partially fund proposals/applications by funding discrete portions or phases of proposed projects. If EPA decides to partially fund a proposal/application, it will do so in a manner that does not prejudice any applicants or affect the basis upon which the proposal/application, or portion thereof, was evaluated and selected for award, and therefore maintains the integrity of the competition and selection process.

Based on consideration of the nature of the proposed project relative to the EPA’s intramural research program and available resources, the EPA intends to award only cooperative agreements under this announcement.  Although EPA will negotiate precise terms and conditions relating to substantial involvement as part of the award process, EPA anticipates substantial involvement as follows:

  • The EPA-ORD Mentor will provide assistance with the development of the research projects and be responsible for ensuring that research activities performed by the trainees at EPA facilities fulfill the requirements of the research projects and are a beneficial learning experience for the trainees;
  • EPA staff will train the trainees in laboratory health and safety and quality assurance;
  • The EPA-ORD Mentor will provide training in laboratory techniques, theory and operation of advanced laboratory instrumentation, computer data base management, computer applications, library database search techniques, sample preparation, computer model application, as well as many other areas related to laboratory research.

Proposals may not identify EPA cooperators; 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
This solicitation is available to each State, territory and possession, and Tribal nation of the U.S., including the District of Columbia, public and private universities and colleges, hospitals, laboratories, State and local government departments, other public or private nonprofit institutions, and foreign entities. Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive assistance agreements from the EPA under this program.

Eligible nonprofit organizations include any organizations that: 1) Are operated primarily for scientific, educational, service, charitable or similar purposes in the public interest; 2) Are not organized primarily for profit; and 3) Use its net proceeds to maintain, improve, and/or expand its operations. However, nonprofit organizations described in Section 501(c) (4) of the Internal Revenue Code that lobby are not eligible to apply.

National laboratories funded by Federal Agencies (Federally-Funded Research and Development Centers, "FFRDCs") may not apply. FFRDC employees may cooperate or collaborate with eligible applicants within the limits imposed by applicable legislation and regulations. They may participate in planning, conducting, and analyzing the research directed by the applicant, but may not direct projects on behalf of the applicant organization. The institution, organization, or governance receiving the award may provide funds through its assistance agreement from the EPA to an FFRDC for research personnel, supplies, equipment, and other expenses directly related to the research. However, salaries for permanent FFRDC employees may not be provided through this mechanism.

Federal Agencies may not apply. Federal employees are not eligible to serve in a principal leadership role on an assistance agreement, and may not receive salaries or augment their Agency's appropriations in other ways through awards made under this program.

The applicant institution may enter into an agreement with a Federal Agency to purchase or utilize unique supplies or services unavailable in the private sector to the extent authorized by law. Examples are purchase of satellite data, 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 organizational eligibility should contact Ron Josephson (josephson.ron@epa.gov); phone: 202-564-7823.

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.  In addition, applications must be submitted through Grants.gov as stated in Section IV of this announcement (except in the limited circumstances where another mode of submission is specifically allowed for as explained in Section IV) on or before the application submission deadline published in Section IV of this announcement. Applicants are responsible for following the submission instructions in Section IV of this announcement (see Section IV.F. “Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements” for further information) to ensure that their application is timely submitted. Applications submitted after the submission deadline will be considered late and deemed ineligible without further consideration unless the applicant can clearly demonstrate that it was late due to EPA mishandling or because of technical problems associated with Grants.gov or relevant SAM.gov system issues. An applicant’s failure to timely submit their application through Grants.gov because they did not timely or properly register in SAM.gov or Grants.gov will not be considered an acceptable reason to consider a late submission. Applicants should confirm receipt of their application with the Electronic Submissions Contact shown in this solicitation as soon as possible after the submission deadline—failure to do so may result in your application not being reviewed.

Applications exceeding the funding limits or project period term described herein will be rejected without review.  Further, applications that fail to demonstrate a public purpose of support or stimulation (e.g., by proposing research which primarily benefits a Federal program or provides a service for a Federal agency) will not be funded. 

Applications must propose the training and mentoring of both undergraduate and graduate students. Applications that do not propose the training and mentoring of both undergraduate and graduate students will not be considered.

Further, applications that do not propose trainee participation at EPA-ORD’s Cincinnati facilities will not be considered.

Consistent with Agency regulatory obligations, applicants for and/or recipients of EPA financial assistance are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex and handicap in their programs or activities. Therefore, applications that contain provisions wherein decisions about how to structure and manage a trainee program, including the selection process, may be based on race, color, national origin, sex and handicap 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

Additional provisions that apply to this solicitation and/or awards made under this solicitation, including but not limited to those related to confidential business information, contracts and subawards under grants, and proposal assistance and communications, can be found at EPA Solicitation Clauses.

These, and the other provisions that can be found at the website link, are important, and applicants must review them when preparing applications for this solicitation.   If you are unable to access these provisions electronically at the website above, please communicate with the EPA contact listed in this solicitation to obtain the provisions.

A. Grants.gov Submittal Requirements and Limited Exception Procedures
Applicants, except as noted below, must apply electronically through Grants.gov under this funding opportunity based on the Grants.gov instructions in this announcement. If an applicant does not have the technical capability to apply electronically through Grants.gov because of limited or no internet access which prevents them from being able to upload the required application materials to Grants.gov, the applicant must contact OGDWaivers@epa.gov or the address listed below in writing (e.g., by hard copy, email) at least 15 calendar days prior to the submission deadline under this announcement to request approval to submit their application materials through an alternate method.

Mailing Address:
OGD Waivers
c/o Barbara Perkins
USEPA Headquarters
William Jefferson Clinton Building
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N. W.
Mail Code: 3903R
Washington, DC 20460

Courier Address:
OGD Waivers
c/o Barbara Perkins
Ronald Reagan Building
1300 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Rm # 51267
Washington, DC 20004

Funding Opportunity Number (FON)
Organization Name and DUNS
Organization’s Contact Information (email address and phone number)
Explanation of how they lack the technical capability to apply electronically through Grants.gov because of: 1) limited internet access or 2) no internet access which prevents them from being able to upload the required application materials through Grants.gov.

EPA will only consider alternate submission exception requests based on the two reasons stated above and will timely respond to the request -- all other requests will be denied. If an alternate submission method is approved, the applicant will receive documentation of this approval and further instructions on how to apply under this announcement. Applicants will be required to submit the documentation of approval with any initial application submitted under the alternative method. In addition, any submittal through an alternative method must comply with all applicable requirements and deadlines in the announcement including the submission deadline and requirements regarding proposal content and page limits (although the documentation of approval of an alternate submission method will not count against any page limits).

If an exception is granted, it is valid for submissions to EPA for the remainder of the entire calendar year in which the exception was approved and can be used to justify alternative submission methods for application submissions made through December 31 of the calendar year in which the exception was approved (e.g., if the exception was approved on March 1, 2015, it is valid for any competitive or non-competitive application submission to EPA through December 31, 2015). Applicants need only request an exception once in a calendar year and all exceptions will expire on December 31 of that calendar year. Applicants must request a new exception from required electronic submission through Grants.gov for submissions for any succeeding calendar year. For example, if there is a competitive opportunity issued on December 1, 2015 with a submission deadline of January 15, 2016, the applicant would need a new exception to submit through alternative methods beginning January 1, 2016.

Please note that the process described in this section is only for requesting alternate submission methods. All other inquiries about this announcement must be directed to the Agency Contact listed in Section VII of the announcement. Queries or requests submitted to the email address identified above for any reason other than to request an alternate submission method will not be acknowledged or answered.

B. Application Package Information
Use the application package available at Grants.gov (see Section IV.F. “Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements”).  Note: With the exception of the current and pending support form (available at How to Apply and Required Forms), all necessary forms are included in the electronic application package. Make sure to include the current and pending support form in your Grants.gov submission.

An email will be sent by EPA to the Principal Investigator (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 acknowledgement within 10 calendar days of the submission closing date, immediately inform the Electronic Submissions Contact shown in this solicitation.  Failure to do so may result in your application not being reviewed.  See Section IV.F. “Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements” for additional information regarding the application receipt acknowledgment.

C. 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 SF424, 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 unique entity identifier (formerly ‘DUNS number’) when applying for federal grants or cooperative agreements.  Organizations may receive a unique entity identifier, at no cost, by calling the dedicated toll-free request line at 1-866-705-5711, or visiting the website at: Dun & Bradstreet Exit.

    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 How to Apply and Required Forms.  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.


  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 training effort being proposed and conveys all the essential elements of the training. 

    The abstract should include the information described below (a-g). 

    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: List the PI, then the name(s) of each co-PI who will significantly contribute to the project.  Provide a website 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.
    6. Project Cost: Show the total funding requested from the EPA (include direct and indirect costs for all years).
    7. Project Summary: Provide two subsections addressing: (1) the objectives of the project, and (2) the expected results (outputs/outcomes) of the project and how it addresses the needs identified in the solicitation.

  5. Project Narrative (25 pages)

    The Project Narrative is the technical proposal that discusses the technical approach and organizational capabilities for accomplishing the objectives stated under Section I.D of this solicitation. It must also address all of the review criteria described in Section V of the announcement.

    The project narrative must not exceed twenty-five (25) 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 page limitation for the project narrative shall include all text, tables, figures, references, attachments, and appendices.  Do not refer to institutional websites to address content in the Project Narrative. All sections listed below must be adequately described within the twenty-five (25) page Project Narrative page limit.

    The project narrative should provide the following information (Please use section headings provided below):

    1. Educational and Technical Merit: Describe the educational and technical merit of the research training program being proposed. Describe how a partnership with EPA-ORD-Cincinnati will support EPA’s goal of training the next generation of environmental scientists and engineers.
    2. Management of Training Program: The proposed approach for managing the training program, including providing financial support to trainees; processes and procedures for matching trainees identified for the training program with the available training opportunities related to EPA-ORD-Cincinnati’s research themes; and providing scientific oversight for the selected trainees’ development of personal training plans and research projects.  EPA-ORD-Cincinnati will designate mentors through the EPA Project Officer. The proposed training program should describe how it will disseminate guidance and provide direction to trainees to ensure they are following the health and safety and quality assurance requirements as described by EPA-ORD Mentors while working at the laboratory; accomplishing the required coursework for their chosen degree without undue interference from their research responsibilities; and receiving the necessary resources to accomplish the proposed research. Training must be conducted at ORD’s Cincinnati facilities on a regular basis with undergraduate trainees working either as summer interns, or throughout academic quarters/semesters with EPA-ORD scientists (mentors) on a part-time or full-time schedule, and graduate trainees undertaking more substantial research projects in collaboration with EPA and university scientists on a part-time or full-time schedule. Applicants should address logistical issues necessary to achieve the objectives of this announcement as described in Section I.
    3. Recruitment: The proposed approach for competitively advertising traineeships in as wide a manner as practicable and approach for recruiting undergraduate and graduate students of high quality and ability from across the country, including trainees that have an economic disadvantage or that lack exposure to environmental science/environmental information due to underdeveloped environmental science infrastructure at their educational institutions. This process may include partnerships with other institutions. 
    4. Trainee Selection: The rationale and process for selecting trainees, including trainees that have an economic disadvantage or that lack exposure to environmental science/environmental information due to underdeveloped environmental science infrastructure at their educational institutions. This process may include partnerships with other institutions. The process for receiving, managing, and objectively reviewing applications from students for traineeships. The applicant should describe the selection criteria to be used in the evaluation of potential trainees. Examples of selection criteria are: qualifications, career interests, experience, and academic record. Note that applications must not contain provisions wherein decisions about how to structure and manage a trainee program, including the selection process, may be based on race, color, national origin, sex and handicap.
    5. Expected Outputs and Outcomes: Describe the expected outputs and outcomes resulting from the training program. Describe the plan for tracking and measuring progress toward achieving the expected environmental outputs and outcomes including those identified in Section I.D. above. 
    6. Personnel Expertise: The qualifications and competence of the Principal Investigator and key personnel and adequacy of their time commitment to the research training program. Include formal education, training, licenses, or other relevant training as it relates to expertise in conducting and/or overseeing activities described in Section I.
    7. Financial and Project Management: Describe the approach, procedures, and controls for ensuring that awarded assistance funds will be expended in a timely and efficient manner and how project objectives will be timely and successfully achieved within the project period. Provide program schedules with associated milestones and target dates for completion.
    8. Budget: Describe how the program budget makes the most efficient use of Agency funds for the collaborative training of undergraduate and graduate students, for instance, by minimizing direct costs for administrative support.
    9. Facilities and Resources: Describe the facilities and resources (i.e., supplies, training tools) available to support the learning experience of participating trainees.
    10. Past Performance and Reporting History: Provide information on the proposed Principal Investigator’s (PI's) past performance and reporting history under prior Federal 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 and documenting progress towards achieving the expected results under each agreement.

      The past performance and reporting history information is required only for the proposed PI's performance under federally funded assistance agreements (assistance agreements include grants and cooperative agreements but not contracts) similar in size, scope and relevance to the proposed project that the proposed PI performed within the last three years. Note: If no prior past performance information and/or reporting history exists, you will be asked to so state.

      The specific information required for each agreement is shown below.

      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, scope and relevance 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 PI's past performance in reporting on progress towards achieving the expected results (outputs/outcomes) under the agreement and meeting reporting requirements 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).

  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 How to Apply and Required Forms.  Only complete “Section B-Budget Categories”.   Provide the object class budget category (a. - k.) amounts for each budget year under the “Grant Program, Function or Activity” heading.  Each column reflects a separate budget year.  For example, Column (1) reflects budget year 1.  The total budget will be automatically tabulated in column (5).

      Applicants may not use subagreements to transfer or delegate their responsibility for successful completion of their EPA assistance agreement.  Please refer to EPA Solicitation Clauses Contracts and Subawards if your organization intends to identify specific contractors, including consultants, and subawardees in your proposal.

      Please note that institutional cost-sharing is not required.


    2. Budget Justification [2 pages in addition to the Section IV.C.5. page limitations]

      Describe the basis for calculating the personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, and other costs identified in the SF-424A.  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 cooperative agreement 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.

        Below is a sample computation for Travel:

        Purpose of Travel Location Item Computation Cost
        EPA Progress Meeting OH 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. It does not include: (1) equipment planned to be leased/rented, including lease/purchase agreements; or (2) equipment service or maintenance contracts. 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 purpose of the proposed contract/procurement, the proposed duration of the contract/procurement, the estimated cost, and the proposed procurement method (competitive or non-competitive).  Any procurement of services from individual consultants or commercial firms (including space for workshops) must comply with the competitive procurement requirements of 2 CFR Part 200.317-200.326. Please see EPA Solicitation Clauses Contracts and Subawards 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. 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 or nonprofit research institutions for members of the research team, are included in this category. Provide the total costs proposed for subawards as a separate line item in the budget justification and brief description of the activities to be supported for each subaward or types of subawards if the subrecipients have not been identified. Subawards may not be used to acquire services from consultants or commercial firms.  Please see EPA Solicitation Clauses Contracts and Subawards for more details.   The “Other” budget category also includes participant support costs such as stipends or travel assistance for trainees (e.g. interns or fellows).     

      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 is not limited to traditional materials, but should provide materials to clearly and appropriately demonstrate that the investigator has the knowledge needed to perform their component of the proposed research.  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.

    Alternative to a standard resume, you may use a profile such as an NIH BioSketch that can be generated in SciENcv (see SciENcv for information on SciENcv; also see My NCBI Curriculum Vitae Web Application: SciENcv).  These materials should generally conform to the requirements for a resume (e.g., content and page number).


  8. Current and Pending Support

    Complete a current and pending support form (provided at How to Apply and Required Forms) 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 training 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 Project Narrative.  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 Project Narrative and is included in the 25-page Project Narrative limit.  Any transactions between the successful applicant and parties providing letters of intent or support financed with EPA assistance funds are subject to the contract and subaward requirements described EPA Solicitation Clauses Contracts and Subawards.


    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:
      Research Training Program for College and University Students, EPA-G2016-ORD-C1


    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.

D. 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 EPA’s Research Grants website (Research Grants) and a modification posted on Grants.gov.

Solicitation Closing Date: August 16, 2016, 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time (applications must be submitted to Grants.gov by this time, see Section IV.F “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 6-9 months after the solicitation closing date.

E. Funding Restrictions
The funding mechanism for all awards issued under ORD 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. 

EPA award recipients may incur allowable project costs 90 calendar days before the Federal awarding agency makes the Federal award. Expenses more than 90 calendar days pre-award require prior approval of EPA. All costs incurred before EPA makes the award are at the recipient's risk. EPA is under no obligation to reimburse such costs if for any reason the recipient does not receive a Federal award or if the Federal award is less than anticipated and inadequate to cover such costs.

If you wish to submit applications for more than one ORD funding opportunity you must ensure that the work 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.

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.

F. 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, see Section IV.A above for additional guidance and instructions.

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 electronic submission of your application must be made by an official representative of your institution who is registered with Grants.gov and is authorized to sign applications for Federal assistance.  For more information on the registration requirements that must be completed in order to submit an application through Grants.gov, go to Grants.gov and click on “Register” at the top right corner of the page.  If your organization is not currently registered with Grants.gov, please encourage your office to designate an Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) and ask that individual to begin the registration process as soon as possible. Please note that the registration process also requires that your organization have a unique entity identifier (formerly ‘DUNS’ number) and a current registration with the System for Award Management (SAM) and the process of obtaining both could take a month or more.  Applicants must ensure that all registration requirements are met in order to apply for this opportunity through Grants.gov and should ensure that all such requirements have been met well in advance of the submission deadline.  Registration on Grants.gov, SAM.gov, and unique entity identifier assignment is FREE.

    Applicants need to ensure that the AOR who submits the application through Grants.gov and whose DUNS number is listed on the application is an AOR for the applicant listed on the application. Additionally, the DUNS number listed on the application must be registered to the applicant organization’s SAM account. If not, the application may be deemed ineligible.

    To begin the application process under this announcement, go to Grants.gov and click on “Applicants” on the top of the page and then “Apply for Grants” from the drop-down menu and then follow the instructions accordingly. Please note: To apply through Grants.gov, you must use Adobe Reader software and download the compatible Adobe Reader version. For more information about Adobe Reader, to verify compatibility, or to download the free software, please visit Grants.gov support

    You may also be able to access the application package for this announcement by searching for the opportunity on Grants.gov.  Go to Grants.gov and then click on “Search Grants” at the top of the page and enter the Funding Opportunity Number, EPA-G2016-ORD-C1, or the CFDA number that applies to the announcement (CFDA 66.511), in the appropriate field and click the Search button. Alternatively, you may be able to access the application package by clicking on the Package button at the top right of the synopsis page for the announcement on Grants.gov.  To find the synopsis page, go to Grants.gov and click “Browse Agencies” in the middle of the page and then go to “Environmental Protection Agency” to find the EPA funding opportunities.

  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”).  Applications submitted through Grants.gov will be time and date stamped electronically.  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 EPA is the email acknowledgement sent by EPA to the 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 10 calendar days of the solicitation closing date, immediately inform the Electronic Submissions Contact shown in this solicitation.  Failure to do so may result in your application not being reviewed.

  3. Application Package Preparation.  Your organization’s AOR must submit your complete application package electronically to EPA through Grants.gov (Grants.gov) no later than August 16, 2016, 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time. Please allow for enough time to successfully submit your application and allow for unexpected errors that may require you to resubmit.    

    Please submit all of the application materials described below using the Grants.gov application package that you downloaded using the instructions above. For additional instructions on completing and submitting the electronic application package, click on the “Show Instructions” tab that is accessible within the application package itself. 

    The application package consists of the following mandatory documents. 

    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 PDF file labeled “Application” that contains the items described in Section IV.C.3. through IV.C.9.a [Table of Contents, Abstract, Project Narrative, 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 How to Apply and Required Forms) are needed, place them before the Table of Contents (Section IV.C.3.).

    Once the application package has been completed, the “Submit” button should be enabled.  If the “Submit” button is not active, please call Grants.gov for assistance at 1-800-518-4726.  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 technical review.  All emails, as described below, are to be sent to Debra M. Jones (jones.debram@epa.gov) with the FON in the subject line.

    Be aware that EPA will only consider accepting applications that were unable to transmit due to Grants.gov or relevant Sam.gov system issues or for unforeseen exigent circumstances, such as extreme weather interfering with internet access. Failure of an applicant to submit timely because they did not properly or timely register in SAM.gov or Grants.gov is not an acceptable reason to justify acceptance of a late submittal.

    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.  If the problems stem from unforeseen exigent circumstances unrelated to Grants.gov, such as extreme weather interfering with internet access, contact Debra M. Jones (jones.debram@epa.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 or unforeseen exigent circumstances, send an email message to Debra M. Jones (jones.debram@epa.gov) 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 Debra M. Jones (jones.debram@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. Technical Review
All eligible applications will be evaluated by EPA reviewers based on the criteria and process described below. The purpose is to evaluate the scientific merit of the proposal and the capability of the applicant to complete the project as proposed.  Each application will be rated under a points system, with a total of 100 points possible. The individual scores of the EPA reviewers will be added up and then averaged resulting in a final average score per application.  Applications will be ranked in accordance with the final score.  Preliminary funding recommendations will be provided to the selection official based on this ranking.

The following criteria will be used to evaluate eligible proposals:

  1. The degree to which the proposed training program is feasible and relevant to EPA’s goal of training the next generation of environmental scientists and engineers and the degree to which the proposed training program has educational and technical merit. (10 points)

  2. The degree to which the application provides a reasonable and appropriate approach for managing the training program, including providing financial support to trainees; proposes reasonable and appropriate processes and procedures for matching trainees identified for the training program with the available training opportunities related to EPA-ORD-Cincinnati’s research themes; and provides scientific oversight for the selected trainees’ development of personal training plans and research projects. Under this criterion, the Agency will also evaluate the extent to which applicants address logistical issues necessary to achieve the objective of this announcement as described in Section I. (20 points)

  3. The degree to which the training program adequately describes dissemination of guidance and provides direction to trainees to ensure they are following the health and safety and quality assurance requirements as described by EPA-ORD Mentors while working at the EPA laboratory; accomplishing the required coursework for their chosen degree without undue interference from their research responsibilities; and receiving the necessary resources to accomplish the proposed research.  (5 points)

  4. The degree to which the application demonstrates how the applicant will competitively advertise traineeships in as wide a manner as practicable and recruit undergraduate and graduate students of high quality and ability from across the country, including students that have an economic disadvantage or lack exposure to environmental science/environmental information due to underdeveloped environmental science infrastructure at their educational institutions. This process may include partnerships with other institutions. (10 points)

  5. The degree to which the application provides a detailed rationale and process for selecting trainees, including trainees that have an economic disadvantage or that lack exposure to environmental science/environmental information due to underdeveloped environmental science infrastructure at their educational institutions. This process may include partnerships with other institutions. The degree to which the application adequately describes the process for receiving, managing, and objectively reviewing applications from students for traineeships including descriptions of the selection criteria to be used in the evaluation of potential trainees. (10 points)

  6. The degree to which expected outputs and outcomes resulting from the project are adequately described. The degree to which the applicant’s plan for tracking and measuring progress toward achieving the expected environmental outputs and outcomes including those identified in Section I.D is well defined. (10 points)

  7. The degree to which the application demonstrates that the Principal Investigator and other key personnel have the appropriate expertise and qualifications to competently manage the training program (includes formal education, training, licenses, or other relevant training as it relates to expertise in conducting and/or overseeing activities described in Section I).  The degree to which the Principal Investigator’s and other key personnel’s time commitment is adequate to successfully achieve the goals of the proposed training program. (10 points)

  8. The degree to which the approach, procedures, and controls for ensuring timely and efficient expenditure of awarded assistance funds are well defined and acceptable. The degree to which the approach for ensuring timely and successful achievement of project objectives is adequate and in accordance with the project narrative’s schedule and milestones. The degree to which the budget structure is cost-effective, including how the project budget makes the most efficient use of Agency funds for the collaborative training of trainees, for instance, by minimizing direct costs for administrative support. (10 points)

  9. The degree to which the applicant’s resources and facilities (i.e., supplies, training tools) are available and adequate to support the learning experience of participating trainees. (5 points)

  10. Past Performance and Reporting History (10 points) 

    The EPA will evaluate the proposed PI's past performance under prior Federal assistance agreements (assistance agreements include grants and cooperative   agreements but not contracts) performed within the last three years that were similar in size, scope and relevance to the proposed project in two areas:  First, in successfully managing and completing these prior assistance agreements, including whether there is a satisfactory explanation for any lack of success. Second, in meeting reporting requirements under the prior agreements and reporting progress toward achieving results (outputs/outcomes) under these agreements, including the proposed 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.

    If the proposed PI has no relevant or available past performance and/or reporting   information, the applicant will be given a neutral rating (5 points) for those criteria.  In evaluating applicants under this criterion the Agency may consider information from other sources including agency files and prior/current grantors (e.g., to verify and/or supplement the information provided by the applicant).

B. Funding Decisions
Final funding decisions are made by EPA-ORD management based on the results of the technical review. In addition, in making the final funding decisions, EPA-ORD management 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.

C. Additional Provisions for Applicants Incorporated into the Solicitation
Additional provisions that apply to this solicitation and/or awards made under this solicitation including the clause on Reporting and Use of Information Concerning Recipient Integrity and Performance can be found at EPA Solicitation Clauses. These, and the other provisions that can be found at the website link, are important, and applicants must review them when preparing proposals for this solicitation.   If you are unable to access these provisions electronically at the website above, please communicate with the EPA contact listed in this solicitation to obtain the provisions.

VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

A. Award Notices
Customarily, applicants are notified about evaluation decisions within six months of the solicitation closing date. 

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 reviewers and/or submit a revised budget.  EPA Project Officers will contact the PI to obtain these materials.  Before or after an award, applicants may be required to provide additional quality assurance documentation.

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 ORD management 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 Grant Competition Dispute Resolution Procedures.  Questions regarding disputes may be referred to the Eligibility Contact identified below.

C. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
Additional provisions that apply to this solicitation and/or awards made under this solicitation, including but not limited to those related to unique entity identifier, SAM, copyrights, disputes, and administrative capability, can be found at EPA Solicitation Clauses.

These, and the other provisions that can be found at the website link, are important, and applicants must review them when preparing applications for this solicitation.  If you are unable to access these provisions electronically at the website above, please communicate with the EPA contact listed in this solicitation to obtain the provisions.

Expectations and responsibilities of ORD cooperative agreement holders are summarized in this section, although the terms grant and grantee are used. 

  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 cooperative agreement 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 2 CFR 200.308.  Note: prior written approval is also required from the EPA Award Official for incurring costs more than 90 calendar days prior to award.
  3. Human Subjects:
    A grant applicant must agree to comply with all applicable provisions of EPA Regulation 40 CFR Part 26 (Protection of Human Subjects).  In addition, grant applicants must agree to comply with EPA’s procedures for oversight of the recipient’s compliance with 40 CFR Part 26, as given in EPA Order 1000.17A (Policy and Procedures on Protection of Human Research Subjects in EPA Conducted or Supported Research).  As per this Order, no human subject may be involved in any research conducted under this assistance agreement, including recruitment, until the research has been approved or determined to be exempt by the EPA Human Subjects Research Review Official (HSRRO) after review of the approval or exemption determination of the Institutional Review Board(s) (IRB(s)) with jurisdiction over the research under 40 CFR Part 26. Following the initial approvals indicated above, the recipient must, as part of the progress report(s), provide evidence of continuing review and approval of the research by the IRB(s) with jurisdiction, as required by 40 CFR 26.109(e).

    Guidance for investigators conducting EPA-funded research involving human subjects may be obtained here:

    Basic Information about Human Subjects Research
    Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

  4. Data Access and Information Release: After award, all data produced under the award must be made available to the ORD 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 ORD Project Officer in a standard exchange format no later than the due date of the cooperative agreement’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 Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility and Integrity of Information Disseminated by the Environmental Protection Agency.  These procedures may apply to data generated by grant recipients if those data are disseminated as described in the Guidelines.

  5. Reporting:  The recipient must agree to provide quarterly performance progress reports and a final report.  The reports should be submitted electronically to the Technical Contact named in Section VII of this announcement.

    The recipient must also agree to provide copies of, or acceptable alternate access to (e.g., web link), any peer reviewed journal article(s) resulting from the cooperative agreement during the project period. In addition, the recipient should notify the ORD Project Officer of any papers published after completion of the cooperative agreement that were based on activities supported by the cooperative agreement. 

  6. Quality Assurance: Trainees placed in EPA laboratories will be governed by the EPA quality system, as described in the approved Quality Management Plan (QMP) for the organization in which they are placed.  Approved QMPs are in full compliance with the EPA’s quality system requirements as expressed in these two documents:
    • Policy and Program Requirements for the Mandatory Agency-wide Quality System, EPA CIO 2105.0, May 2000; and
    • EPA Quality Manual for Environmental Programs, EPA CIO 2105-P-01-0,   May 2000.

    Trainees who are engaged in scientific research, including laboratory work must:

    • Meet with the organization’s Quality Assurance Manager (QAM),
    • Work under an approved quality assurance project plan (QAPP),
    • As appropriate, use standard operating procedures (SOPs).
  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:

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

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.

Technical Contact: Suzanne Jackson (jackson.suzanne@epa.gov); phone: 513-569-7310
Eligibility Contact: Ron Josephson (josephson.ron@epa.gov); phone: 202-564-7823
Electronic Submissions: Debra M. Jones (jones.debram@epa.gov); phone: 202-564-7839