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U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Research
Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program

Closed - For Reference Purposes Only

CONTINUOUS MEASUREMENT METHODS FOR PARTICULATE MATTER COMPOSITION

Special Announcement

The Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications section of this RFA has been updated.

This revision is provided primarily for clarification of previous instructions as well as to provide additional assistance during the application transmittal process. No modification of applications in preparation is required (i.e., updating the Application Filing Name is optional). These changes include:

  1. the hyperlink location for the PureEdge viewer
  2. further emphasis that the Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) must submit the application package
  3. emphasis that e-mails from grants.gov do not document receipt of the application by NCER; NCER receipt is necessary to assure review
  4. new instruction as to what is appropriate to put in the "Application Filing Name" field
  5. clarification that the application can be submitted after "Submit" button activation
  6. some trouble-shooting advice to avoid/resolve problems commonly observed when first attempting to transfer the file to grants.gov (i.e., close all other software, reboot computer)
  7. a phone number for grants.gov

Note that only the submission instructions for electronic applications has been changed and that these changes are designed only to make the filing process more clear.

This is the May 10, 2005 update of this funding opportunity. This revision is to update the Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications section only. This update is provided for clarification of previous instructions a well as to provide additional assistance during the application transmittal process. No modification of applications in preparation is required (i.e., updating the application Filing Name is optional).

Sorting Code Numbers: 2005-STAR-J1
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 66.509

Solicitation Opening Date: March 3, 2005
Solicitation Closing Date: June 7, 2005
Application receipt deadline date: June 7, 2005, 4:00 p.m. E.T.

Eligibility Contact:
Thomas Barnwell; Phone: 202-343- 9862; Email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov

Technical Contact:
Darrell Winner; Phone: 703-347-0210; Email: winner.darrell@epa.gov

Table of Contents:
SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
  Synopsis of Program
  Award Information
  Eligibility Information
  Application Materials
  Contact Persons
I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION
  Introduction
  Background
  Specific Research Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes
  References
  Authority and Regulations
II. AWARD INFORMATION
III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION
  Eligible applicants
  Cost sharing
IV. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION
  Internet Address to Request Application Package
  Content and Form of Application Submission
  Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications
  Submission Dates and Times
  Funding Restrictions
  Other Submission Requirements
V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION
  Criteria
  Review and Selection Process
  Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates
VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION
  Award Notices
  Administrative and National Policy Requirements
  Reporting
VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Access Standard STAR Forms and Instructions
View NCER Research Capsules
View previous solicitations
View research awarded under previous solicitations

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

Synopsis of Program:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, is seeking applications proposing continuous measurement techniques that determine the composition of fine atmospheric particulate matter (PM). These improved continuous measurement techniques should provide insight into the sources contributing to measured concentrations in ambient air, into the effectiveness of potential control strategies, and into the possibility of composition-specific PM regulatory standards.

Award Information:

Anticipated Type of Award: Grant
Estimated Number of Awards: Approximately 3 awards
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $1.5 million total for all awards
Potential Funding per Grant: Total of $500,000, including direct and indirect costs, with a duration of 2 or 3 years. Cost-sharing is not required. Proposals with budgets exceeding the total award limits will not be considered.

Eligibility Information:

Institutions of higher education and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and Tribal, state and local governments are eligible to apply. See full announcement for more details.

Application Materials:

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

Contact Person(s):

Technical Contact: Darrell Winner; Phone: 703-347-0210; Email: winner.darrell@epa.gov

Eligibility Contact: Tom Barnwell; Phone: 202-343-9862; Email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov

Electronic Submissions: Bronda Harrison; Phone: 202-564-1790; Email: harrison.bronda@epa.gov

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

Introduction

One of the high-priority research areas identified by the EPA Office of Research and Development (ORD) is atmospheric fine particulate matter. Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), EPA has the responsibility for setting air quality standards to protect the public’s health and welfare with an adequate margin of safety. Air pollution is a widespread problem in the United States, with over 130 million individuals exposed to levels of air pollution that exceed one or more health-based ambient standards. One of the major air pollutants of concern, particulate matter (PM), represents a broad class of chemically and physically diverse substances. PM can be described by size, formation mechanism, origin, and chemical composition. The concentration of PM in the air varies across space and time, and is dependent on the source of PM, atmospheric transformations, and meteorological conditions. EPA currently supports a number of particulate matter-related research grants resulting from previous solicitations. Information regarding current research can be found on ORD’s National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) homepage http://www.epa.gov/ncer/science/pm. An overview of EPA’s entire PM research program can be viewed at http://www.epa.gov/pmresearch/.

The specific EPA Strategic Goal, Objective and Sub-objective that relates to this solicitation includes: Goal 1: Clean Air and Global Climate Change Objective: 1.6 Enhance Science and Research, Sub-objective: 1.6.2 Conduct Air Pollution Research. EPA’s Strategic Plan can be found on the following web page: http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/plan/2003sp.pdf. (PDF, 239pp., about PDF)

Background

Fine particles (PM2.5) have been linked to a range of serious respiratory and cardiovascular health problems. The key effects associated with exposure to ambient particulate matter include premature mortality, aggravation of respiratory and cardiovascular disease (as indicated by increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits, school absences, work-loss days, and restricted activity days), aggravated asthma, acute respiratory symptoms, chronic bronchitis, decreased lung function, and increased risk of myocardial infarction. Recent estimates indicate that exposures to PM2.5 may result in tens of thousands of excess deaths per year, and many more cases of illness among the US population.

Due to the complex nature of PM2.5, there are many scientific issues that require further inquiry to support the future efforts of air quality managers who are responsible for designing cost-effective implementation strategies to reduce exposure to harmful levels of PM2.5 across the country. Understanding the sources and their contributions to local ambient PM concentrations will be critical to achieving the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). A detailed understanding of the chemical composition of PM2.5 provides critical information towards this goal.

One significant gap in our understanding of ambient PM2.5 is how it changes over the course of a day. Although there are substantial data on daily variations in ambient PM2.5 mass concentrations and the composition of that mass, we know much less about changes that occur over shorter time periods. Focused measurement campaigns have been conducted in a few locations, but these campaigns are expensive and require the dedicated efforts of many highly skilled participants. The effort and expense associated with these campaigns necessarily limits their applicability. Thus, the focus of this RFA is to develop, improve, and evaluate measurement techniques capable of providing low-cost yet high-frequency composition information.

Specific Research Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes

Measurements of aerosol size, mass and composition on timescales of an hour or less are required to better resolve the atmospheric chemistry and source-receptor relationships for PM. Improvements in and evaluations of continuous and semi-continuous measurement methods and applications of these techniques in research and in routine networks will provide necessary information to local air quality managers. Measurements of greatest interest to EPA currently include fine (PM2.5) and coarse (PM2.5-10) mass, the major components of mass (sulfate, nitrate, ammonium, organic carbon, and elemental carbon), trace elements, and the major precursor species, nitric acid and ammonia. Continued evaluation of existing methods is needed, as well as new methods. New methods with improved accuracy and precision, fewer impacts from interferences, and with improved time resolution compared to existing methods, are of particular interest.

In conducting data evaluations, EPA encourages the investigation of available data from monitoring programs such as the PM Supersites program http://www.epa.gov/ttn/amtic/supersites.html, the Speciation Trends Network (STN) http://www.epa.gov/ttn/amtic/speciepg.html, the IMPROVE network http://vista.cira.colostate.edu/improve/exit EPA, and the criteria pollutant networks http://www.epa.gov/ttn/amtic/pmdata.html. To be of greatest benefit, improved or new methods should correlate well (or at a minimum, predictably) with mass and speciation results gathered from these existing monitoring networks. Studies comparing multiple techniques and instruments simultaneously at a small number of sites are encouraged.

The focus of this effort should be to characterize the average composition of particles and precursors collected over a given time, as opposed to the detailed characterization of single particles within a given sample. The ideal method would be analogous to continuous monitors for gaseous pollutants such as carbon monoxide or ozone. However, even these monitors usually report data on a rolling average basis over a several minute period. Similar averaging times for ambient PM monitoring would be equally acceptable.

Practical methods that collect ambient concentration data for periods of one hour to one day should necessarily be capable of operating remotely. Systems that require the continuous presence of an operator will not be considered to be viable by the state and local regulatory agencies that operate monitoring networks. Research to develop and test methods that can operate remotely; collect, store, and transmit data; and are able to provide ambient concentration data comparable to current Federal Reference Method (FRM) monitors is of greatest interest. The current PM FRM monitors require servicing once a day. Although continuous or semi-continuous systems that also require daily servicing would not increase the operating requirements, it is desirable to decrease the frequency of operator interactions even as sampling frequency is increased. Proposals that demonstrate the potential for reasonable costs in order to facilitate deployment at hundreds of sites are encouraged. For example, a measurement technique with a four-hour averaging time may be viewed more favorably than a technique with a daily averaging time, unless the daily technique costs an order of magnitude less than the four-hour technique.

References

US EPA PM monitoring network http://www.epa.gov/ttn/amtic/pmdata.html

US EPA PM speciation network http://www.epa.gov/ttn/amtic/speciepg.html

US EPA Supersites http://www.epa.gov/ttn/amtic/supersites.html

Authority and Regulations

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

II. AWARD INFORMATION

It is anticipated that a total of approximately $1.5 million will be awarded under this announcement, depending on the availability of funds. EPA anticipates funding approximately 3 grants under this RFA. The projected award per grant is $500,000 in total costs, with a duration of up to 3 years. Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $500,000, including direct and indirect costs, will not be considered. The total project period for an application submitted in response to this RFA may not exceed 3 years. EPA reserves the right to reject all applications and make no awards under this RFA. EPA reserves the right to make additional awards under this RFA if additional funding materializes. The additional selections for awards will be made no later than 4 months after the original selection decisions.

EPA intends to fund grants rather than cooperative agreements under this announcement. Agency scientists will not be substantially involved in the research projects receiving EPA funding. However, EPA encourages interaction between its own laboratory scientists and grant principal investigators after the award of an EPA grant for the sole purpose of exchanging information in research areas of common interest that may add value to their respective research activities. This interaction must be incidental to achieving the goals of the research under a grant. Interaction that is “incidental” does not involve resource commitments.

III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

Eligible Applicants

Institutions of higher education and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and Tribal, state and local governments, are eligible to apply. Universities and educational institutions must be subject to OMB Circular A-21. Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive grants from EPA under this program. 

Eligible nonprofit organizations include any organizations that meet the definition of nonprofit in OMB Circular A-122. However, nonprofit organizations described in Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code that engage in lobbying activities 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 principal investigator, but may not direct projects on behalf of the applicant organization or principal investigator. The principal investigator's institution, organization, or governance may provide funds through its grant from EPA to a 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 a grant, and may not receive salaries or in other ways augment their agency's appropriations through grants made by this program.

The principal investigator’s institution may enter into an agreement with a federal agency to purchase or utilize unique supplies or services unavailable in the private sector. Examples are purchase of satellite data, census data tapes, chemical reference standards, analyses, or use of instrumentation or other facilities not available elsewhere. A written justification for federal involvement must be included in the application, along with an assurance such as a letter of intent from the federal agency involved that commits it to supply the specified service upon funding.

Noncompliance with the application submission instructions and requirements (page limits, font size, etc.) set forth in section IV of this announcement will result in the application being rejected without further review. Applications and initial proposals must be received by EPA on or before the solicitation closing date published in section IV of the announcement. Applications received after the solicitation closing date will be returned to the sender without further consideration. Also, applications exceeding the funding limits described in the RFA will be returned without review. See section IV of this RFA, “Application and Submission Information,” for additional information pertaining to administrative and application submission requirements.

Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact Tom Barnwell in NCER, phone 202-343-9862, email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov

Cost Sharing

Institutional cost-sharing is not required and, therefore, does not have to be included in the budget table. However, if the applicant intends to cost-share, a brief statement concerning cost-sharing should be added to the budget justification, and estimated dollar amounts must be included in the appropriate categories in the budget table.

IV. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

You may submit either a paper application or an electronic application (but not both) for this announcement. Instructions for both forms of submission follow.

Internet Address to Request Application Package

Application forms and instructions for applying can be found on the NCER web site at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/. In addition, to apply electronically, you must also use the application package available at https://apply.grants.gov/forms_apps_idx.htmlexit EPA (see “Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications”).

Content and Form of Application Submission

The initial application is made through submission of the materials described below. It is essential that the application contain all information requested and be submitted in the formats described. Noncompliance with formatting instructions (page limits, font size, etc.) will result in the application being rejected without further review. Please note that if an application is being considered for an award (i.e., after external peer review and internal review), additional forms and other information will be requested by the EPA Project Officer. The initial application must contain the following:

A. Standard Form 424: The applicant must complete SF424. This form will be the first page of the application. Instructions for completion of the SF424 are included with the form. The form must contain the original signature of an authorized representative of the applying institution. Please note that both the Principal Investigator and an administrative contact are to be identified in Section 5 of the SF424.

Regarding Block 16 of the SF 424: research funded under this program may be eligible under Executive Order (E.O.) 12372, “Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs,” if it affects public health or if an environmental impact statement is required. If applicable, an applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her state for more information on the process the state requires to be followed in applying for assistance, if the state has selected the program for review. Additional information regarding E.O 12372 may be found at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants/spoc.htmlexit EPA.

B. Key Contacts: The applicant must complete the Key Contacts Form (NCER Form 1) as the second page of the application. The Key Contacts Form and a continuation page are available at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/. A copy of this form should also be completed for major sub-agreements (contacts at the institutions of primary co-investigators). Please make certain that all contact information is accurate. An e-mail will be sent by NCER (from receipt.application@epa.gov; e-mails to this address are not accepted) to the Principal Investigator (with a copy to the Administrative Contact) to acknowledge receipt of the application and to transmit other important information. If an e-mail acknowledgment has not been received within 30 days of the submission deadline, then immediately contact the project officer listed under "Contacts" in this solicitation. Please note: Due to often lengthy delays in delivery, it is especially important that you monitor NCER confirmation of receipt of your application when using regular mail.

C. Table of Contents: Provide a list of the major subdivisions of the application indicating the page number on which each section begins. (A Table of Contents is not required for electronic submissions.)

D. Abstract: The abstract is a very important document in the review process. Therefore, it is critical that the abstract accurately describe the research being proposed and convey all the essential elements of the research. Also, the abstracts of applications that receive funding will be posted on the NCER web site.

The abstract, which must be limited to one page, must include the information indicated in the example format ( http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/) and described below (1-8). Examples of abstracts for current grants may be found on the NCER web site.

1. Research Category and Sorting Code: Enter the full name of the solicitation under which your application is submitted and the code that corresponds to the appropriate RFA topic.

2. Title: Use the exact title of your project as it appears in the application. The title must be brief, yet represent the major thrust of the project. Because the title will be used by those not familiar with the project, strike a balance between highly technical words and phrases and more commonly understood terminology. Do not use phrases such as “research on.”

3. Investigators: List the Principal Investigator, then the names and affiliations of each co-investigator who will significantly contribute to the project. Provide a web site URL or an E-Mail contact address for additional information.

4. Institution: In the same order as the list of investigators, list the name and city/state of each participating university or other applicant institution. The institution applying for assistance must be clearly identified.

5. Project Period: Show the proposed project beginning and ending dates.

6. Project Cost: Show the total dollar request, including direct and indirect costs, to the EPA for all grant years (the entire project period).

7. Project Summary: Provide three subsections addressing: (a) the objectives of the study (including any hypotheses that will be tested), (b) the experimental approach to be used (a description of the project proposed ), and (c) the expected results of the project and how it addresses the research needs identified in the solicitation, including the estimated improvement in risk assessment or risk management that will result from successful completion of the proposed work.

8. Supplemental Keywords: Supply keywords to assist database searchers in finding your research, without duplicating terms already used in the text of the abstract. A complete set of keywords is very important. A list of suggested keywords will be found at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/

E. Research Plan and Quality Assurance Statement

Research Plan (15 pages)

Applications should be focused on a limited number of research objectives that can be adequately and clearly demonstrated to meet the RFA requirements. Explicitly state the main hypotheses that you will investigate, the data you will create or use, the analytical tools you will use to investigate these hypotheses or analyze these data, and the results you expect to achieve. Research methods must be clearly stated so that the reviewers can evaluate the appropriateness of your approach and the tools you intend to use. The statement: “we will evaluate the data using the usual statistical methods” is not specific enough for peer reviewers.

This description must not exceed fifteen (15) consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced, standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins. The description must provide the following information:

1. Objectives: List the objectives of the proposed research and the hypotheses being tested during the project, and briefly state why the intended research is important. This section should also include any background or introductory information that would help explain the objectives of the study. If this application is for continuation of research supported by an existing or former grant awarded under the STAR program, indicate the number of the grant and provide a brief report of progress and results achieved under that grant (one to two pages recommended).

2. Approach/ Activities/Outputs: Outline the research design, methods, and techniques that you intend to use in meeting the objectives stated above (five to 10 pages recommended).

3. Expected Results, Benefits and Outcomes: Describe the results you expect to achieve during the project and the benefits of the results. This section should also discuss how the research results will lead to solutions to environmental problems and improve the public’s ability to protect the environment and human health. A clear, concise description will help NCER understand the merits of the research (one to two pages recommended).

4. General Project Information: Discuss other information relevant to the potential success of the project. This should include facilities, personnel, project schedules, proposed management, interactions with other institutions, etc. Applications for multi-investigator projects must identify project management and the functions of each investigator within a team and describe plans for communication and sharing of data (one to two pages recommended).

5. Important Attachments:
References cited are in addition to the 15-page Research Plan limit.

Appendices may be included but must remain within the 15-page limit.

Quality Assurance Statement (two pages in addition to the 15-page research plan)

For any project involving data collection or processing, conducting surveys, environmental measurements, modeling, or the development of environmental technology (whether hardware-based or via new techniques) for pollution control, provide a Statement on processes that will be used to assure that results of the research satisfy the intended project objectives. EPA is particularly interested in the quality controls for data generation and acquisition, and how data validation and usability will be verified. The Statement must describe a system that complies with ANSI/ASQC E4, Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology Programs, and must not exceed two consecutively numbered, 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced, standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins.

For each item below, either present the required information, reference the specific location of the information in the Research Plan, or provide a justification of why the item does not apply to the proposed research.

1. Identify the individual who will be responsible for the quality assurance and quality control aspects of the research. [Quality assurance (QA) is an integrated system of management activities involving planning, implementation, documentation, assessment, and improvement to ensure that a process, or item is of the type and quality needed for the project. Quality control (QC) is the system of technical activities that measures the attributes and performance of a process or item against defined standards, to verify that they meet the stated requirements.]

2. Discuss the activities to be performed or the hypothesis to be tested and criteria for determining acceptable data quality. (Note: Such criteria may be expressed in terms of precision, accuracy, representativeness, completeness, and comparability or in terms of data quality objectives or acceptance and evaluation criteria.) Also, these criteria must be applied to determine the acceptability of existing, or “secondary,” data to be used in the project. (In this context, secondary data may be defined as data previously collected for other purposes or from other sources.)

3. Describe the study design. Include sample type(s) and location requirements, all statistical analyses that were or will be used to estimate the types and numbers of physical samples required, or equivalent information for studies using survey and interview techniques, or describe how new technology will be benchmarked to improve existing processes, such as those used by industry.

4. Describe the procedures that will be used in the calibration and performance evaluation of all analytical instrumentation and all methods of analysis to be used during the project. Explain how the effectiveness of any new technology will be measured.

5. Describe the procedures for the handling and custody of samples, including sample collection, identification, preservation, transportation, and storage, or how the accuracy of test measurements will be verified.

6. Discuss the procedures for data reduction and reporting, including a description of all statistical methods to make inferences and conclusions, with identification of any statistical software to be used; discuss any computer models to be designed or utilized and describe the associated verification and validation techniques.

7. Describe the quantitative and/or qualitative procedures that will be used to evaluate the success of the project, including any plans for peer or other reviews of the study design or analytical methods prior to data collection.

ANSI/ASQC E4, Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology Programs, is available for purchase from the American Society for Quality, phone 1-800-248-1946, item T55. Only in exceptional circumstances should it be necessary to consult this document. An EPA guidance document, Guidance on Satisfying EPA Quality System Requirements for STAR Grants (EPA QA/G-1STAR) is available for potential applicants and addresses in detail how to comply with ANSI/ASQC E4 for STAR grants. This may be found on the Internet at http://www.epa.gov/ncer under “Guidance and FAQs.”

Congress, through OMB, has instructed each 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.” EPA’s implementation may be found at http://www.epa.gov/quality/informationguidelines/. These procedures may apply to data generated by grant recipients if those data are disseminated as described in the Guidelines.

F. Budget and Budget Justification

Budget

Prepare a budget table using the guidance and format found at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/, and select “All required forms.” If a sub-agreement, such as a subcontract, is included in the application, provide a separate budget for the subcontract in the same format if the sub-agreement is greater than $25K. Include the total amount for the sub-agreement under “Contracts” in the master budget. Any project containing sub-agreements that constitute more than 40% of the total direct cost of the grant will be subject to special review. Additional justification for use of such a subcontract must be provided, discussing the need for this agreement to accomplish the objectives of the research project.

Please note that institutional cost-sharing is not required. However, if you intend to cost-share, a brief statement concerning cost-sharing should be added to the budget justification, and estimated dollar amounts must be included in the appropriate categories in the budget table.

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

Describe the basis for calculating the personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, and other costs identified in the itemized budget and explain the basis for their calculation. (Special attention should be given to explaining the “travel,” “equipment,” and “other” categories.) The budget justification should not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced, standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins.

Budget information should be supported at the level of detail described below.

1. Personnel: List all staff positions by title. Give annual salary, percentage of time assigned to the project, and total cost for the budget period.

2. Fringe Benefits: Identify the percentage used and the basis for its computation.

3. Travel: Specify the estimated number of trips and locations, and other costs for each type of travel. Explain the need for any travel outside the United States. Include travel funds for annual STAR program progress reviews and a final workshop to report on results.

4. Equipment: Identify computers, and all other tangible non-expendable personal property to be purchased which has an estimated cost of $5,000 or more per unit and a useful life of more than one year. (Personal property items with a unit cost of less than $5,000 are considered supplies.)

5. Supplies: “Supplies” means tangible property other than “equipment.” Identify categories of supplies to be procured (e.g., laboratory supplies or office supplies).

6. Contractual: Identify each proposed sub-agreement (grant or contract) and specify its purpose and estimated cost. Sub-agreements more than $25K should have a separate itemized budget included as part of the application.

7. Other: List each item in sufficient detail for the EPA to determine the reasonableness of its cost relative to the research to be undertaken.

8. Indirect Charges: If indirect charges are included in the budget, indicate the approved rate and base with an explanation of how indirect costs were calculated.

G. Resumes and Current and Pending Support

Resumes: Provide the resumes of all principal investigators and important co-workers. 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.

Current and Pending Support: Identify any current and pending financial resources that are intended to support research related to the proposal or which would consume the time of principal investigators. Provide information on current and pending support in the format provided at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/ for each investigator and other important co-workers.

H. Guidelines, Limitations, and Additional Requirements
Confidentiality

By submitting an application in response to this solicitation, the applicant grants EPA permission to make limited disclosures of the application to technical reviewers both within and outside the Agency for the express purpose of assisting the Agency with evaluating the application. Information from a pending or unsuccessful application will be kept confidential to the fullest extent allowed under law; information from a successful application may be publicly disclosed to the extent permitted by law.

In accordance with 40 CFR 2.203, applicants may claim all or a portion of their application/proposal as confidential business information. EPA will evaluate confidentiality claims in accordance with 40 CFR Part 2. Applicants must clearly mark applications/proposals or portions of applications/proposals they claimasconfidential.If no claim of confidentiality is made, EPA is not required to make the inquiry to the applicant otherwise required by 40 CFR 2.204(c)(2) prior to disclosure.

Sorting Codes

At various places within the application, applicants are asked to identify the sorting code corresponding to their proposed research topic area in the solicitation.

The sorting code must be placed at the top of the abstract (location is shown in the abstract format, http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/), in Box 10 of Standard Form 424, and in the address on the package that is sent to the EPA (see below). For electronic submissions, you must use the appropriate electronic application package (see “Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications”) for the chosen sorting code. Each application must be submitted using a single sorting code.

Data Policy

The application must include a plan to make available all data (including primary and secondary/existing data) from observations, analyses, or model development under an agreement awarded in this program in a format and with documentation such that they can be used by others in the scientific community. The data must be made available to the NCER project officer without restriction and be accompanied by comprehensive metadata documentation adequate for specialists and nonspecialists alike to be able to understand how and where the data were obtained and to evaluate the quality of the data. The data products and their metadata must be provided to the NCER project officer in a standard exchange format no later than the due date of the grant's final report or the publication of the data product's associated results, whichever comes first. Applicants who develop databases containing proprietary or restricted information should provide a strategy, not to exceed two pages, to make the data widely available, while protecting privacy or property rights. These pages are in addition to the 15 pages permitted for the project description.

Letters of Intent/Letters of Support

Letters of intent to provide resources for the proposed research are limited to one brief paragraph committing the availability of a resource (e.g., use of a person's time or equipment) as described in the Research Plan. Letters of intent are to be included as part of the budget justification documents. Letters of support which discuss the proposed research are considered part of the Research Plan and must be included in the 15-page Research Plan limit.

Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications

The electronic application package available through the http://www.grants.gov/ exit EPA web site must be used for electronic submissions. In order to view the application package, download the PureEdge viewer (hyperlink available under "Apply for Grants" then "Apply Step 1"). The application package may be quickly accessed from https://apply.grants.gov/forms_apps_idx.html exit EPA using either the CFDA number of 66.509 or Funding Opportunity Number 2005-STAR-J1. Be sure to download the electronic application package for the appropriate sorting code/topic area. It is recommended that you “Register to Receive Notification” of announcement updates.

The actual submission of an electronic application must be made by an authorized organizational representative (AOR) of the submitting institution who is registered with grants.gov (most individual investigators will not be eligible to submit the application). Please see http://www.grants.gov/exit EPA , “Get Started” for further information. The registration process may take a week or longer. Please check with your Sponsored Programs or equivalent office to locate your AOR and see if your institution is registered. If your institution is not currently registered, encourage your AOR to begin the process immediately.

The complete application must be transferred to grants.gov no later than 4:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date (see “Submission Dates and Times”). An e-mail will be sent by NCER to the Principal Investigator and the Administrative Contact to acknowledge receipt of the application and to transmit other important information. The email will be sent from receipt.application@epa.gov; email to this address will not be accepted. If an email acknowledgment from NCER (not support@grants.gov) has not been received within 30 days of the submission closing date, immediately contact the technical contact listed under "Agency Contacts" in this solicitation. Failure to do so may result in your application not being reviewed.

Documents must be submitted in Adobe Acrobat PDF format to maintain format integrity. Please submit the required documents as described below.

On the electronic Grant Application Package page, enter the Principal Investigator’s name, starting with the last name, in the “Application Filing Name” field.

A. Application for Federal Assistance (SF-424)

  1. Complete the form. There are no attachments.

B. EPA Key Contacts Form 5700-54

  1. Complete the form.
  2. If additional pages are needed, see “E. Other Attachments Form” below.

C. Project Narrative Attachment Form

  1. Compile the Research Plan followed by the Quality Assurance Statement into one document labeled ResearchPlanQA and submit it as the “Add Mandatory Project Narrative File.”
  2. Prepare a document with your abstract, label it Abstract, and submit it as an “Add Optional Project Narrative File.”
  3. Prepare one document containing all Resumes followed by Current and Pending Support (see format example located at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/), label it Resumes, and submit it as an “Add Optional Project Narrative File.”

D. Budget Narrative Attachment Form

  1. Where possible, prepare one document for your Budget and Budget Justification (see format example located at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/), label this document BudgetAndJustification, and submit it as the “Add Mandatory Budget Narrative.”
  2. If you cannot compile your Budget and Budget Justification into one document, prepare one document for each.
    a. Label your Budget document Budget and submit it as the “Add Mandatory Budget Narrative.”
    b. Label the Budget Justification document BudgetJustification and submit it as an “Add Optional Budget Narrative” document.
  3. When submitting letters of intent, first refer to the “Letters of Intent/Letters of Support” paragraph under Section H (Guidelines, Limitations and Additional Requirements) for additional information. Letters of intent appropriate for inclusion in the budget justification are to be compiled into one document named LettersofIntent and submitted as an “Add Optional Budget Narrative” document.

E. Other Attachments Form

  1. If Key Contacts Continuation pages are needed for the Key Contacts Form 5700-54, compile them into one document labeled ContactsContinuation and submit the document.
  2. Other appropriate documents may also be submitted here.

Once the application package has been completed, the “Submit” button will become active. Save your completed application package with two different file names before providing it to your AOR to avoid having to re-create the package should submission problems be experienced. Submission of the application package must be completed by your AOR.

Please close all other software before attempting to submit the application package. If you experience submission problems, please reboot your computer (turning the power off may be necessary) and re-attempt the submission. If you continue to experience submission problems, contact grants.gov for assistance (Phone: 1-800-518-4726, Email: support@grants.gov). If submission problems are not quickly resolved, contact the NCER electronic submission support person, Bronda Harrison (Phone: 202-564-1790, Email: harrison.bronda@epa.gov).

Submission Dates and Times

For paper copy submissions, the original and two (2) copies of the complete application (3 in all) and one (1) additional copy of the abstract (for a total of 4), must be received by NCER no later than 4:00 P.M. Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date identified below; electronic applications must be transferred to http://www.grants.gov/exit EPA no later than 4:00 P.M. Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date identified below. The following is the anticipated schedule for this RFA. It should be noted that this schedule may be changed without prior notification due to factors that were not anticipated at the time of announcement. In the case of a change in the required receipt date, a new date will be posted on the NCER web site (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/).

Solicitation Closing Date: June 7, 2005, 4:00 p.m. E.T.
Earliest Anticipated Start Date: December 2005

To be considered timely, paper copy applications and initial proposals must be received by NCER on or before the solicitation closing date published above; electronic submissions must be transferred to http://www.grants.gov/exit EPA on or before the solicitation closing date published above. Applications received after the published deadline date, or applications that are not submitted in compliance with the application submission instructions and requirements described above, will be returned to the sender without further consideration. Also, applications exceeding the funding limits described in the RFA will be returned without review.

Funding Restrictions

The funding mechanism for all awards issued under STAR solicitations will consist of assistance agreements from the EPA. All award decisions are subject to the availability of funds. In accordance with the Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act, 31 U.S.C. 6301 et seq., the primary purpose of a grant is to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by Federal statute, rather than acquisition for the direct benefit or use of the Agency. In issuing a grant agreement, the EPA anticipates that there will be no substantial EPA involvement in the design, implementation, or conduct of the research. However, the EPA will monitor research progress through annual reports provided by grantees and other contacts, including site visits, with the Principal Investigator.

If you wish to submit applications for more than one STAR RFA, you must ensure that the research proposed in each is significantly different from any other that has been submitted to the EPA or from any other grant you are currently receiving from the EPA or another federal government agency.

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

Other Submission Requirements (This section is not relevant when submitting electronically.)

The application and abstract must be prepared in accordance with these instructions. Informal, incomplete, or unsigned applications will be returned without review. The original, signed copy of the application must not be bound or stapled in any way. The other two (2) required copies of the application should be secured with paper or binder clips or secure staples.

Because of security concerns, applications cannot be personally delivered. They must be sent through regular mail, express mail, or a major courier.

The following address must be used for regular mail:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8725F)
Sorting Code: 200X-STAR-XX (replace the "XX" with the appropriate code)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20460

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

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8725F)
Sorting Code: 200X-STAR-XX (replace the "XX" with the appropriate code)
1025 F Street, NW (Room 3500)
Washington, DC 20004
Phone: (202) 233-0686

V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION

Criteria

Evaluation of an application’s merit is based on the following criteria which are listed in descending order of importance.

1. a. The originality and creativity of the proposed research, the appropriateness and adequacy of the research methods proposed, and of the Quality Assurance Statement.
b. Is the research approach practical and technically defensible, and can the project be performed within the proposed time period?
c. Will the research contribute to scientific knowledge in the topic area?
d. What are the projected benefits of the proposed activity to society such as by improving the environment or human health?
e. Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding?
f. Is the proposal well-prepared with supportive information that is self-explanatory or understandable?

2. The qualifications of the principal investigator(s) and other key personnel, including research training, demonstrated knowledge of pertinent literature, experience, and publication records. Will all key personnel make a significant time commitment to the project?

3. The responsiveness of the proposal to the research needs identified for the topic area. Does the proposal adequately address the objectives specified by the EPA for this topic area?

4. The availability and/or adequacy of the facilities and equipment proposed for the project. Are there any deficiencies that may interfere with the successful completion of the research?

5. Although budget information does not reflect on the application’s scientific merit, the reviewers are asked to provide their view on the appropriateness and/or adequacy of the proposed budget and its implications for the potential success of the proposed research. Input on requested equipment is of particular interest.

Review and Selection Process

All grant applications are reviewed by an appropriate external technical peer review panel. In general, each peer review group is composed of non-EPA scientists, engineers, social scientists, and/or economists who are experts in their respective disciplines and are proficient in the technical subjects they are reviewing. Based on their review of each application against the stated criteria, reviewers assign a summary score of either excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor to each application. This review is designed to evaluate each proposal according to its scientific merit.

For those applications receiving scores of excellent and very good as a result of the peer review, a programmatic review is then conducted by technical experts from within EPA, including ORD and program and Regional offices involved with the science or engineering proposed. The programmatic review considers the relevance of the proposed science to EPA research priorities, program balance, budget, available funds, and considerations such as support for the congressionally mandated Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCOR): http://www.epa.gov/ncer/other/. The purpose of the programmatic review is to assure a balanced research portfolio for the Agency and determine which applications to recommend for award. Final funding decisions are made by the NCER Director based on the results of the programmatic review. Applicants who are selected for funding will be required to provide additional information and the application will be forwarded to the grants administration office for award in accordance with the EPA’s procedures.

Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

The following is the schedule for this RFA. Please note that this schedule may be changed without notification due to factors that were not anticipated at the time of announcement.

Application Receipt Date: June 7, 2005
Earliest Anticipated Start Date: December 2005

VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

Award Notices

Customarily, applicants are notified about award decisions within six months of the application deadline. A summary statement of the scientific review by the peer panel will be provided to each applicant with the award or declination letter. After selection for award, applicants recommended for funding will be required to submit additional certifications and an electronic version of the revised project abstract, and may be requested to provide responses to comments or suggestions offered by the peer reviewers, a revised budget, and/or to resubmit their proposal. EPA Project Officers will contact Principal Investigators to obtain these materials. The official notification of an award will be made by the Agency’s Grants Administration Division. Before or after an award, certain applicants will be expected to provide additional quality assurance documentation.

Administrative and National Policy Requirements

Expectations and responsibilities of NCER grantees are summarized in this section; see http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance for full terms and conditions associated with an award, including what activities require prior approval of the EPA.

A. Meetings: Principal Investigators will be expected to budget for, and participate in, periodic All-Investigators Meetings (also known as progress reviews) approximately once per year with EPA scientists and other grantees to report on research activities and to discuss issues of mutual interest.

B. Approval of Changes after Award: Prior written approval is required from the EPA if there is to be significant change in the research that deviates markedly from work described in the application. Examples of these changes are contained in 40 C.F.R. 30.25. Prior written approval is also required from the EPA for incurring costs greater than 90 calendar days prior to award.

C. Human Subjects: A grant recipient must agree to meet all EPA requirements for studies using human subjects prior to implementing any work with these subjects. These requirements are given in 40 C.F.R. 26, referred to as the “Common Rule.” No work involving human subjects, including recruiting, may be initiated before the EPA has received a copy of the applicant’s Institutional Review Board’s (IRB) approval of the project and the EPA has also provided approval. Where human subjects are involved in the research, the recipient must provide evidence of subsequent IRB reviews, including amendments or minor changes of protocol, as part of annual reports.

D. Animal Welfare: A grant recipient must agree to comply with the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 (P.L. 89-544), as amended, 7 USC 2131-2156. The recipient must also agree to abide by the “U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals used in Testing, Research, and Training.” (50 Federal Register 20864-20865. May 20,1985)

E. Data Access and Information Release: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-110 has been revised to provide public access to research data through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) under some circumstances. Data that are (1) first produced in a project that is supported in whole or in part with Federal funds and (2) cited publicly and officially by a Federal agency in support of an action that has the force and effect of law (i.e., a regulation) may be accessed through FOIA. If such data are requested by the public, the EPA must ask for it, and the grantee must submit it, in accordance with A-110 and EPA regulations at 40 C.F.R. 30.36.

F. Disputes: Assistance agreement competition-related disputes will be resolved in accordance with the dispute resolution procedures set forth in 70 FR 3629, 3630 (January 26, 2005) which can be found at, http://www.epa.gov/ogd/competition/resolution.htm. Copies of these procedures may also be requested by contacting Darrell Winner; Phone: 703-347-0210; Email: winner.darrell@epa.gov.

Reporting

A grant recipient must agree to provide annual progress reports with associated summaries for posting on NCER’s web site, and a final report with an executive summary for web posting.

A grant recipient must agree to provide copies of any peer reviewed journal article(s) resulting from the research during the project period. In addition, the recipient should notify the EPA Project Officer of any papers published after completion of the grant that were based on research supported by the grant. NCER intends to post references to all publications resulting from the grant on the NCER web site.

EPA’s full or partial support should be acknowledged in journal articles, oral or poster presentations, news releases, interviews with reporters and other communications. Any documents developed under the agreement 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 a STAR Research Assistance Agreement No. __________ awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It has not been formally reviewed by the EPA. The views expressed in this document are solely those of [name of recipient] and the EPA does not endorse any products or commercial services mentioned in this publication.

A graphic that can be converted to a slide or used in other ways, such as on a poster, is located at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/star_images.html. Use of this graphic in oral and poster presentations is expected.

VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the EPA officials indicated below. Email inquiries are preferred.

Technical Contact: Darrell Winner; Phone: 703-347-0210; Email: winner.darrell@epa.gov

Eligibility Contact: Tom Barnwell; Phone: 202-343-9862; Email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov

Electronic Submissions: Bronda Harrison; Phone: 202-564-1790; Email: harrison.bronda@epa.gov

Do not attempt to seek information regarding this RFA from any source other that those contacts identified above as the information provided may not be accurate.

Agency policy prohibits EPA laboratory scientists from providing applicants for competitive grants with information that would provide them with an unfair advantage. Consequently, EPA laboratory scientists will not review, comment, provide technical assistance or other advice on applications to EPA RFAs, or discuss how the Agency will apply the published evaluation criteria for this competition.

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