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RFA Closing Date Change Due to Hurricane Katrina
NCER recognizes that Hurricane Katrina has affected many research efforts. We are investigating ways to assist existing grantees and fellows whose research is directly affected by Katrina. To provide more time for Principal Investigators who may have been affected, we are extending the closing date for announcement EPA-G2005-STAR-L1, "Nonlinear Responses to Global Change in Linked Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems and Effects of Multiple Factors on Terrestrial Ecosystems: A Joint Research Solicitation - EPA, DOE" until 4:00pm, October 27, 2005.

We do not anticipate a change in other grant or fellowship due dates at this time. For additional information contact Tom Barnwell (phone:202-343-9862; email: Barnwell.Thomas@epa.gov).

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

U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research

CLOSED - FOR REFERENCES PURPOSES ONLY

Nonlinear Responses to Global Change in Linked Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems and Effects of Multiple Factors on Terrestrial Ecosystems: A Joint Research Solicitation- EPA, DOE

This is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity.

Sorting Code Numbers: EPA-G2005-STAR-L1
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 66.509

Sorting Code Numbers: EPA-G2005-STAR-L2
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 81.049

Solicitation Opening Date: June 30, 2005
Solicitation Closing Date: September 29, 2005 October 27, 2005, 4:00 p.m.
Application receipt deadline date: September 29, 2005 October 27, 2005, 4:00 p.m. E.T.

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

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

EPA Technical Contact:
Bernice L. Smith: 202-566-1244; email: smith.bernicel@epa.gov

DOE Technical Contact:
Jeff Amthor: 301-903-2507; email: Jeff.Amthor@science.doe.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
  Authority and Regulations
  Specific Research Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes
  References
II. AWARD INFORMATION
III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION
  Eligible applicants
  Cost sharing
  Other
IV. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION
  Internet Address to Request Application Package
  Content and Form of Application Submission
  Submission Dates and Times
  Funding Restrictions
  Other Submission Requirements
V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION
  Criteria
  Review and Selection Process
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’s (EPA), as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, are seeking applications for research on: (1) when and how climate change stressors produce nonlinear ecological responses in linked aquatic and terrestrial systems and (2) when and how multiple global change factors might alter the structure and function of terrestrial ecosystems. Proposals must address nonlinear ecological responses caused by climate change and variability on the scale of decades or longer. Linked ecosystems are of particular interest to EPA and include: freshwater wetlands, riparian areas, watersheds, and near-coastal environments such as estuaries. Unmanaged and managed terrestrial systems such as forests, grasslands, woodlands, deserts, and field crops are of interest to DOE.

Award Information:

Anticipated Type of Award: Grants and some cooperative agreements
Estimated Number of Awards: Up to 12 awards total for this announcement
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $9 million total costs depending upon availability of funds. EPA and DOE will commit up to approximately $4.5 million each.
Potential Funding per Award: Grants and/or cooperative agreements are expected to be awarded in the range of $150,000 - $300,000 per year for up to three years, contingent on availability of funds, progress of the research, and programmatic needs. Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $900,000, including direct and indirect costs, will not be considered.

Eligibility Information:

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

DOE
Colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations, for-profit commercial organizations, state and local governments, and unaffiliated individuals are eligible to apply. Federal employees and employees of Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) are not eligible for support.

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 use the application package available at https://apply.grants.gov/forms_apps_idx.html exit EPA(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 to apply electronically. This registration, and electronic submission of your application, must be performed by an appropriate representative of your organization. See Section IV for more information on application submission.

Contact Person(s):

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

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

EPA Technical Contact: Bernice L. Smith: 202-566-1244; email: smith.bernicel@epa.gov

DOE Technical Contact: Jeff Amthor: 301-903-2507; email: Jeff.Amthor@science.doe.gov

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

Introduction

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development, National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), in partnership with the Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, announces an extramural funding competition supporting an assessment of the potential consequences of global change on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Nonlinear responses to global change were identified as high-priority research across the Federal government; this Request for Applications (RFA) specifically focuses on nonlinear ecological responses to global change.

The purpose of this collaborative research program is to collectively understand how and when nonlinear ecological changes, in response to climate change and variability, affect ecologicalsystems and their associated services. In this context, it is critical that researchers consider the abrupt changes in ecological, biogeochemical, or ecosystem processes, rather than in abrupt changes in climate, and that the changes can be linked to effects on ecosystem services and natural resource management. Climate change and variability on the scale of decades or longer are the focus of this RFA. Research areas of interest include linked aquatic and terrestrial system responses and effects of multiple factors on terrestrial ecosystems.

Established by the Global Change Research Act of 1990, the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is a collaborative interagency program designed to enhance the understanding of natural and human-induced global and climate change and provide a sound scientific foundation for national and international decision-making. Thirteen departments and agencies with their respective missions and appropriations conduct and sponsor climate and global change research responsive to the goals of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (USCCSP). The Strategic Plan for the USCCSP may be found at (http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/stratplan2003/default.htm exit EPA). Below is a description of the EPA’s and DOE’s principal areas of interest relevant to this solicitation.

Background

EPA
EPA’s Global Change Research Program in the Office of Research and Development is assessing the potential consequences of global change on human health, aquatic ecosystems, and social well being in the United States. This entails: (1) improving the scientific capabilities and basis for projecting and evaluating effects of, and vulnerabilities to, global change in the context of other stressors and human dimensions (as humans are catalysts of and responders to global change); (2) conducting assessments of the ecological, human health, and socioeconomic risks and opportunities presented by global change; and (3) assessing adaptation options to improve society’s ability to effectively respond to the risks and opportunities presented by global change as they emerge.

The STAR global change grants program supports the EPA’s Global Change Research Program by focusing on two principal areas: 1) the science to support assessments of consequences; and 2) human dimensions research. This RFA is the latest in a series of related funding announcements and contributes to the EPA Global Change Program’s multi-year plan to build the capacity to assess and respond to global change impacts on aquatic ecosystems. Global change research grants resulting from previous solicitations can be found on the Web pages for EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) and are described below.

The first global change research RFA sought proposals to foster the development of models that capture the interactions of human behavior with natural (nonhuman) responses to climate change. This RFA can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/archive/grants/00/00humanrfa.html. The second RFA solicited proposals to address the consequences and integrative effects of global change on aquatic ecosystems and water quality. This RFA can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/archive/grants/01/global01.html. The third RFA solicited proposals to elucidate the interactions among climate change stressors and their relative effects on coral reefs and tidal marshes and their multiple ecosystem services. This RFA can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/2004/2004_climate_change.html.

The primary EPA Strategic Goal, Objective and Sub-objective that relates to this solicitation is:
Goal 4: Healthy Communities and Ecosystems, Objective 4.5: Enhance Science and Research, Sub-objective 4.5.2: Conduct Relevant Research.

This solicitation also supports:
Goal 1: Clean Air and Global Climate Change, Objective 1.6: Enhance Science and Research, Sub-objective 1.6.2: Conduct Air Pollution Research
Goal 2: Protect Water Quality, Objective 2.3: Enhance Science and Research, Sub-objective 2.3.1: Apply Best Available Science

The EPA’s Strategic Plan may be found on the following Web page: http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/plan/2003sp.pdf.

STAR Global Change research plays a vital role in building the capacity necessary to make assessments of the consequences of global change on ecosystem health. Responsive to Goals 1, 2 and 4, this solicitation seeks applications that use the best available scientific models, methods, and analyses to elucidate abrupt or nonlinear changes in ecological processes of linked aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems caused by global change. Resultant research will be used to forecast and guide societal decisions regarding the effects of climate stressors on ecological services in protecting and sustaining the quality of aquatic ecosystems and their services.

As part of the mission of EPA’s Global Change Research Program, ORD scientists conduct research on the potential changes to ecological resources from global change stressors. This intramural research includes the characterization of ecological responses and, specifically, thresholds in linked aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems due to climate stressors.

DOE
The DOE has responsibility for developing energy resources, technologies, and policies to provide for the nation’s energy needs in a manner that will maintain, protect, and enhance environmental quality. Complementary to this commitment, and as part of the USCCSP, DOE, through its Program for Ecosystem Research (PER; see http://per.ornl.gov exit EPAfor more information), the DOE addresses the question of how ecosystems might respond and adjust to global and regional changes in atmospheric composition and related climate changes associated with energy production and use. The PER goal is to understand -- and be able to predict -- effects of environmental changes associated with energy production on the structure and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. Types of ecosystems, associated functions, and their components most valued by society are of highest priority to the PER. Program interest is on the effects of multiple (concurrent) environmental changes on terrestrial ecosystems.

Authorities and Regulations

The EPA authority for this RFA and resulting awards is contained in the Clean Air Act, Section 103, 42 U.S.C. 7403 and the Clean Water Act, Section 104, 33 U.S.C.

The DOE program is governed by regulation 10 CFR Part 605, Office of Science Financial Assistance Program. The authority is contained in Section 31 of the Atomic Energy Act, as amended, Pub. L. 83-703, 68 Stat. 919 (42 U.S.C. 2051); sec. 107 of the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, Pub. L. 93-438, 88 Stat. 1240 (42 U.S.C. 5817); Federal Nonnuclear Energy Research and Development Act of 1974, Pub. L. 93-577, 88 Stat. 1878 (42 U.S.C. 5901 et seq.); secs. 644 and 646 of the Department of Energy Organization Act, Pub. L. 95-91, 91 Stat. 599 (42 U.S.C. 7254 and 7256).

Specific Research Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes

(I) Linked Aquatic - Terrestrial Ecosystem Responses (Sorting Code EPA-G2005-STAR-L1)
Note: Awards under this topic will be funded by the EPA.

Scheffer et al. (2001), Folke et al. (2004), and Peters et al. (2004) reviewed nonlinear ecological responses showing that external conditions or stressors to ecosystems -- such as climate, inputs of nutrients or pollutants, groundwater reduction, habitat fragmentation, and harvest or loss of species diversity -- often change gradually, even linearly, with time. Some ecosystems may respond in a smooth, continuous way to such trends. However, the authors also show that while some ecosystems may seem unresponsive to changes in stressors, they change rapidly after a threshold is exceeded. Both theory and field observations show that crossing a threshold can result in dramatic changes in the composition and function of aquatic communities and ecosystems. Examples of nonlinear ecological responses where stressors related to climate include:

A. Gradual increases in nutrient inputs to lakes or estuaries can lead to rapid eutrophication and hypoxia with pronounced changes in aquatic communities, biogeochemical processes, and water quality (Scheffer et al. 2001).
B. Coral reef ecosystems have shifted to algal systems due to temperature changes (Ostrander et al. 2000).
C. Food web shifts in oceans have been observed due to climatic events coupled with anthropogenic activities (Scheffer et al. 2001).

Although these nonlinear ecological responses are fairly well understood, there are many other ecosystems, particularly linked to aquatic and terrestrial systems, where these vulnerabilities to climate change are not well studied or well understood.

This research area encourages proposals that examine the implications of gradual changes in climate change and variability for ecological systems. In this context, it is critical that the abrupt changes considered are in ecological, biogeochemical, or ecosystem processes, rather than in abrupt climate change, and that the changes can be linked to effects on ecosystem services and natural resource management. Single, extreme weather events that cause nonlinear responses in the ecosystem are beyond the scope of this RFA. Rather, climate change and variability on the scale of decades or longer are the focus. This research area seeks proposals that focus on nonlinear ecological responses to climate change that are not well studied or well understood. Additionally, co-occurring stressors, if they are significant drivers of the nonlinear ecological response, are of interest. The systems of interest are aquatic systems along with the surrounding terrestrial ecosystems to which they are linked; these include, but are not limited to, freshwater wetlands, riparian areas, watersheds, and near-coastal environments such as estuaries. In all cases, the nonlinear ecological response should be in the aquatic system, although the mechanism may be due to its linkage with terrestrial ecosystems.

Conditions and changes leading to nonlinear or threshold responses in the ecosystem should be identified. The most competitive proposals will conduct research on important ecological processes and relate their findings directly to ecosystem services and natural resource management issues. Ecosystem services with strong ties to the Clean Water Act (CWA) are of particular interest. The CWA mandates that EPA develop water quality criteria and standards to control anthropogenic stressors (e.g., toxic chemicals, excessive nutrients, dissolved oxygen, etc.) to aquatic ecosystems. Thus, aquatic ecosystems and their associated services such as water quality, shoreline protection, nutrient absorption, erosion control, the maintenance of biodiversity, etc. are protected under the CWA.

The desired outcomes of these projects are research results to improve ecological forecasting and inform decision makers on managing the conditions leading to nonlinear or threshold responses and subsequent changes to ecosystem services. Proposals should demonstrate consideration of some of the following scientific issues in the formulation of research questions:

There are uncertainties in the factors that lead to catastrophic or irreversible change in ecosystems (Carpenter et al. 1999, Muradian 2001, Walker et al. 2002).

  • There are uncertainties when gradual changes lead to threshold-type responses (Carpenter et al. 1999).
  • Natural resource management may increase resilience in ecosystems subject to nonlinear ecological responses.
  • There may be strategies available to help managers incorporate uncertainty about nonlinear ecological responses into their decision-making (Carpenter et al. 1999, Janssen and Carpenter 1999, Walker et al. 2002).
  • Certain scales may be more appropriate to investigate nonlinear ecological responses and the management of these ecosystems and their services (Peters et al. 2004).
  • Certain ecosystem services may be more responsive to environmental change.
  • Certain ecosystem characteristics may make them more susceptible to abrupt irreversible change or nonlinear ecological responses.
  • The response function of different ecosystems may be predicted in terms of ecosystem structure, function, or services (Folke et al. 2004).
  • Certain linkages between ecosystems may change responses to environmental stress. For example, interdependencies between stream and terrestrial ecosystems may decrease sensitivity to climate change, or transfers from marine to littoral ecosystems may decrease the resilience of coastal environments.

(II) Effects of Multiple Factors (climate and environmental change associated with energy production and use) on Terrestrial Ecosystems (Sorting Code EPA-G2005-STAR-L2)
Note: Awards under this topic will be funded by the DOE.

This research area seeks projects that address multiple factors on terrestrial ecosystems. Projects should determine the theoretical and/or empirical basis of whether, and how, (1) changes in temperature, (2) soil moisture, (3) atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, and/or (4) atmospheric ozone concentration might affect the structure and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems of importance to the nation. The intent of this research is to reduce scientific uncertainty about how important terrestrial ecosystems might respond and adjust to future global and regional changes in at least two of the four environmental factors identified above.

Innovative approaches should be employed in studying effects on the structure and functioning of important terrestrial ecosystems relating to: (1) warming and changes in daily, seasonal, and inter-annual temperature cycles; (2) systematic changes in seasonal and annual precipitation; and/or (3) increases in the concentrations of carbon dioxide and/or (4) ozone in the atmosphere enveloping terrestrial ecosystems. Effects of factors such as human land use and introduction and spread of invasive species on ecosystem structure and functioning are of interest only to the extent that they modify the effects of climatic and atmospheric changes on terrestrial ecosystems, not as stand-alone factors influencing terrestrial ecosystems. Research directed primarily at plant or ecosystem carbon balance, or carbon sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems, will not be considered for support. The magnitude of changes in the environmental factors to be studied should be clearly justified in each proposal.

The objective of the proposed research projects should be to measurably improve the scientific basis for predicting the effects of environmental changes associated with energy production on terrestrial ecosystems and their component organisms and processes. This objective should be met either through manipulative experiments (in the field or the laboratory, as appropriate) and/or through the development and testing of models of ecosystem structure and functioning.

Experimental research based on underlying theory, and modeling that considers ecological hierarchies (i.e., multi-level or mechanistic modeling), would be especially relevant. Experimental projects should involve controlled manipulations of at least two of the four environmental factors listed above (warming, changes in precipitation, increases in carbon and/or ozone), not the use of environmental gradients as surrogates for controlled manipulations. Modeling projects should involve new empirically based science, or introduce new theories into existing models, and/or critically evaluate and improve existing models with independent experimental data (i.e., projects making “simple” predictions of ecological effects of specific environmental change scenarios, rather than developing and/or testing hypotheses about cause-and-effect relationships between environmental changes and the structure and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems, will not be supported). An important issue for all research projects is determining which details and processes need to be included in ecosystem models, which can be ignored, and which can be simplified or parameterized for various model applications.

Proposed research should be directed at measurable endpoints attainable within a specified period. Endpoints of interest would be related to: (1) adjustments at the ecosystem scale, such as changes in the organized hierarchy of ecosystem processes, structures, biological diversity, and/or succession, and/or (2) adjustments at the organismal scale that are manifested at the ecosystem scale, including physiological, biochemical, and/or genetic changes that may facilitate (or hinder) ecosystem homeostasis.

The desired outcome of these research projects is an improved understanding of the effects of multiple changes in the environment (i.e., changes associated with energy production) on the structure and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. Proposals should describe how the research results might be used to improve process (or mechanistic) ecosystem models in order to forecast the effects of environmental changes.

References

1. Carpenter, S.R., et al. Management of eutrophication for lakes subject to potentially irreversible change. Ecological Applications 9 (3): 751-771 (1999).

2. Folke, C., et al. Regime shifts, resilience, and biodiversity in ecosystem management. Annual Review in Ecology and Systematics 35: 557-581 (2004).

3. Janssen, M.A. and S.R. Carpenter. Managing the resilience of lakes: a multi-agent modeling approach. Conservation Ecology 3 (2): 15 (1999).

4. Muradian, R. Ecological thresholds: a survey. Ecological Economics 38 (1): 7-24 (2001).

5. Ostrander, G. K., et al. Rapid transition in the structure of a coral reef community: the effects of coral bleaching and physical disturbance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 97 (10): 5297-302 (2000).

6. Peters, D. P. C., et al. Cross-scale interactions, nonlinearities, and forecasting catastrophic events. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 101 (42): 15130-35 (2004).

7. Scheffer, Marten, et al. Catastrophic shifts in ecosystems. Nature 413: 591-96 (2001).

Walker, B., S., et al. Resilience management in social-ecological systems a working hypothesis for a participatory approach. Conservation Ecology 6: (1): 14 (2002). On line at http://www.consecol.org/vol6/iss1/art14 exit EPA

II. AWARD INFORMATION

It is anticipated that a total of approximately $9 million will be awarded under this announcement, contingent on availability of funds, progress of the research, and programmatic needs. A total of 12 grants or, in some cases, cooperative agreements (for EPA only) are anticipated for funding. The projected award per grant is $150,000 to $300,000 per year total costs, for up to 3 years. Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $900,000, 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. The EPA reserves the right to reject all applications and make no awards under this RFA. In addition, the EPA reserves the right to make additional awards under this RFA if additional funding becomes available. Any additional selections for awards will be made no later than 4 months after the original selection decisions.

Agency policy prevents EPA laboratory scientists and engineers from providing individual applicants with information that would provide them with an unfair competitive advantage. Consequently, EPA laboratory scientists and engineers will not review, comment, advise, or provide technical assistance to applicants preparing applications in response to EPA RFAs or discuss in any manner how the Agency will apply the published evaluation criteria for this competition.

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

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

DOE intends to fund grants rather than cooperative agreements under this announcement.

Note: for the remainder of this document, the term “grant” is used interchangeably for the terms “grant” or “cooperative agreement.”

III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

Eligible Applicants

EPA
Institutions of higher education and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., Federally Recognized Tribal Governments, 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 the 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 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 grant 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 a grant, and may not receive salaries or augment their Agency’s appropriations in other ways through grants made by 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. 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 assurance (such as a letter of intent) from the Federal Agency involved that commits it to supply the specified service upon award.

DOE
Colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations, for-profit commercial organizations, state and local governments, and unaffiliated individuals are eligible to apply. Federal employees and employees of Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) are not eligible for support.

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.

Other

Applications that do not substantially comply with the application submission instructions and requirements set forth in Section IV of this announcement will be rejected. In addition, where a page limit is expressed in Section IV with respect to parts of the application, pages in excess of the page limitation will not be reviewed. Applications and initial proposals must be received by the EPA on or before the solicitation closing date published in Section IV of this announcement.

Applications received after the published closing date will be returned to the sender without further consideration. Also, applications exceeding the funding limits described herein will be returned without review.

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

For paper applications, forms and instructions can be found on the NCER web site:: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/.

For electronic applications, use the application package available at https://apply.grants.gov/forms_apps_idx.htmlexit EPA (see "Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications").

Projects selected for funding by DOE through this RFA not submitted through grants.gov will be required to submit a DOE Face Page (DOE F 4650.2) and DOE Budget Pages (DOE F4620.1) after they are selected, but before they are funded. These forms can be found at http://www.science.doe.gov/grants exit EPA.

Content and Form of Application Submission

The application is made by submitting the materials described below. It is essential that the application contain all information requested and be submitted in the formats described.

A. Standard Form 424:

The applicant must complete form 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 (or electronic) signature of an authorized representative of the applying institution. Please note that both the Principal Investigator and an administrative contact must be identified in Item 5 of the SF424.

Applicants are required to provide a “Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System” (DUNS) number in Item 5 when applying for federal grants or cooperative agreements. Organizations may receive a DUNS number by calling 1-866-705-5711 or by visiting the web site at http://www.dnb.com. exit EPA

Some states have an intergovernmental review requirement under Executive Order 12372, “Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs.” Item 16 of the SF424 refers to this requirement. An applicant should consult http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants/spoc.html exit EPA to determine whether his or her state participates in this process and how to comply.

.B. Key Contacts:

TThe applicant must complete the “Key Contacts” Form as the second page of the application; the Key Contacts continuation page is also available http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms. The Key Contacts form should also be completed for major sub-agreements (i.e., contacts at the institutions of primary co-investigators). Please make certain that all contact information is accurate. For both paper and electronic applications, an email will be sent by NCER to the Principal Investigator and the Administrative Contact to acknowledge receipt of the application and transmit other important information. The email will be sent from receipt.application@epa.gov; email to this address will not be accepted. If you do not receive an email acknowledgment within 30 days of the submission closing date, immediately contact the Technical Contact listed under “Agency Contacts” in this solicitation. See “Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications” for additional information regarding acknowledgment of receipt of electronically submitted applications. Please note: Due to often-lengthy delays in delivery, it is especially important that you monitor NCER’s 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: (1 page)

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

The abstract should include the information indicated in the example format at 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: The appropriate research areas and sorting codes for this RFA are: Nonlinear Responses to Global Change in Linked Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems, EPA-G2005- STAR-L1, and Effects of Multiple Factors on Terrestrial Ecosystems, EPA-G2005-STAR-L2.

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 general 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 email contact address for additional information.

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

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

6. Project Cost: Show the total dollars requested, including direct and indirect costs for all grant years (i.e., 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 list of suggested keywords can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms.

E. Research Plan and Quality Assurance Statement

Research Plan (15 pages)

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

This description must not exceed fifteen (15) consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced, standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins. While these guidelines establish minimum type size requirements, applicants are advised that readability is of paramount importance and should be considered in selection of an appropriate font for use throughout the proposal.

The description must provide the following information:

1. Objectives: List the objectives of the proposed research and the hypotheses being tested during the project, and briefly state why the intended research is important. This section should also include any background or introductory information that would help explain the objectives of the study. If this application is to continue research supported by an existing or former grant awarded by EPA or DOE, 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: Outline the research design, methods, and techniques that you intend to use in meeting the objectives stated above (five to ten pages recommended).

3. Expected Results, Benefits, Outputs and Outcomes: Describe the results you expect to achieve during the project (outputs) and the benefits of the results (outcomes). 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 reviewers 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 expertise/experience, project schedules, proposed management, interactions with other institutions, etc. Applications for multi-investigator projects must identify project management and the functions of each investigator in each team and describe plans to communicate and share data (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), provide a Statement on processes that will be used to assure that results of the research satisfy the intended project objectives. The 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. 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. These criteria also must be applied to determine the acceptability of existing, or “secondary,” data to be used in the project, and their use discussed. (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. Explain how the effectiveness of any new technology or process will be measured. 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.

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.”

Page allowances for the following sections are in addition to those allowed for the Research Plan and Quality Assurance Statement.

Data Plan (2 additional pages)

The application must include a plan to make available all data (including primary and secondary/existing data) from observations, analyses, or model development collected or used under an agreement awarded as a result of this RFA in a format and with documentation/metadata such that they may be used by others in the scientific community. Applicants who plan to develop or enhance databases containing proprietary or restricted information must provide a strategy, within the two pages, to make the data widely available, while protecting privacy or property rights.

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 greater than $25K and is included in the application, provide a separate budget for the subcontract in the same format as the sub-agreement. 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 subcontracts must be provided, discussing the need for the agreement(s) to accomplish the objectives of the research project.

Please note that institutional cost sharing is not required. However, if cost sharing is proposed, 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. 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 program progress reviews and a final workshop to report on results.

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

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

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 and budget justification, not to exceed one additional page each, included as part of the application.

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

8. Indirect Costs: If indirect costs 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 resumes for each investigator and important co-worker. 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 that would consume the Principal Investigator’s time. Provide information on current and pending support in the format provided at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms for each investigator and important co-worker.

H. Guidelines, Limitations, and Additional Requirements

Confidentiality

By submitting an application in response to this solicitation, the applicant grants the EPA and DOE permission to make limited disclosures of the application to technical reviewers both within and outside the Agencies for the express purpose of assisting the Agencies 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 the application/proposal as confidential business information (for example, hypotheses or methodologies contained in the research narrative that the applicant wishes to protect from possible public disclosure). EPA will evaluate confidentiality claims in accordance with 40 CFR Part 2. Applicants must clearly mark applications/proposals or portions of applications/proposals they claim as confidential. If no claim of confidentiality is made, the EPA is not required to make an inquiry to the applicant otherwise required by 40 CFR 2.204(c)(2) prior to disclosure.

Sorting Code

At various places in the application, applicants are asked to identify the sorting code. 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) and in Box 10 of Standard Form 424 for all applications. For paper submissions, the sorting code must also be placed in the address on the package that is sent to the EPA (see below). Each application must be submitted using a single sorting code.

Applicants must select a sorting code corresponding to their proposed research topic area. It is the responsibility of the applicant to identify the proper sorting code, based on the nature of the proposed research. Failure to do so could result in an inappropriate peer review assignment. If your research seems to fit under more than one sorting code, choose the most appropriate one. For electronic submissions, you must use the appropriate electronic application package (see “Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications”) for the chosen sorting code.

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 an addition to the budget justification documents.

Principal investigators may believe that letters of support from local constituencies contribute to the relevance of their proposal. All letters that do not commit a resource vital to success of the proposal are considered letters of support. Letters of intent that exceed one brief paragraph and letters of support are considered part of the Research Plan and included in the 15-page Research Plan limit.

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, must be received by NCER no later than 4:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date. Electronic applications must be transferred to grants.gov no later than 4:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date. It should be noted that this schedule might be changed because of factors that were not anticipated at the time of announcement. In the case of a change in the required application closing date, a new date will be posted on the NCER web site (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/) and a modification posted on http://www.grants.gov exit EPA. Applications received after the closing date will be returned to the sender without further consideration.

Solicitation Closing Date: September 29, 2005 October 27, 2005, 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Earliest Anticipated Start Date: May 2006

Funding Restrictions

The funding mechanism for all awards issued under STAR solicitations will consist of assistance agreements. 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 application 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 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.

Any contracts for services or products funded with EPA financial assistance must be awarded under the competitive procurement procedures of 40 CFR Part 30. Moreover, naming a specific contractor in the application does not relieve the applicant of its obligations to comply with competitive procurement requirements. Also, the regulations contain limitations on consultant compensation.

Other Submission Requirements

You may submit either a paper application or an electronic application (but not both) for this announcement.

Submission Instructions for Paper Applications

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 permanently 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, DC 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

Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications

The electronic application package available through the http://www.grants.gov exit EPAWeb 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 EPAusing the appropriate Funding Opportunity Number (either EPA-G2005-STAR-L1 or EPA-G2005-STAR-L2). 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 determine 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. We suggest you view files for any PDF conversion errors prior to preparing the electronic application package. 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.
4. Prepare a document containing the Data Plan, label it DataPlan, and submit it as an “Add Optional 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.

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 submission problems continue, 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).

V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION

Criteria

An external peer review panel considers an application’s merit based on the criteria below. Criteria 1-5 are listed in descending order of importance:

1. Research Proposal (criteria “1a” through “1f” are essentially equal):
a. The originality and creativity of the proposed research, the appropriateness and adequacy of the proposed research methods, and 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 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. Investigators: 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. Responsiveness: The responsiveness of the proposal to the research needs identified for the topic area. Does the proposal adequately address the objectives and special considerations specified for this topic area?

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

Review and Selection Process

All grant applications are reviewed by an appropriate external technical peer review panel using the criteria above. 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 proficient in the technical subjects they are reviewing. Reviewers are asked to 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.

EPA
Applications receiving scores of excellent or very good as a result of the peer review process will then undergo a programmatic review conducted by technical experts from the EPA, including individuals from the Office of Research and Development (ORD) and program and regional offices involved with the science or engineering proposed. All other applications are automatically declined. The internal programmatic review panel considers:

  • The relevance of the proposed science to research priorities,
    • program balance,
    • the applicant’s past performance and reporting,
    • organizational experience, and
  • Available program funds and 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. In conducting the programmatic review, the EPA will consider information provided by the applicant as well as information from other sources including agency files.

DOE
Applications receiving scores of excellent or very good in the peer review process will then undergo a programmatic review conducted by the DOE Office of Science. All other applications will be declined. The DOE programmatic review will consider:

  • Relevance of the proposed project to the priorities of the DOE Program for Ecosystem Research,

  • Balance of research activities in the DOE Program for Ecosystem Research, and
  • Availability of appropriated funds.

The purpose of the programmatic review is to assure a balanced research portfolio for the Department and to determine which applications to recommend for award.

EPA and DOE management will make final funding decisions based on the results of the peer review and internal programmatic review. Applicants selected for funding will be required to provide additional information listed below under Award Notices. The application will then be forwarded to the grants administration offices for award in accordance with the agency’s procedures.

DOE agrees to abide by EPA’s application review procedures.

VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

Award Notices

Customarily, applicants are notified about award decisions within six months of the application closing date. A summary statement of the scientific review by the peer panel will be provided to each applicant with an 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. They may also be asked to provide responses to comments or suggestions offered by the peer reviewers, a revised budget, and/or to resubmit their proposal. Project Officers will contact Principal Investigators to obtain these materials.

Several topics may be included in the negotiations conducted prior to award including formal identification of key personnel. Where a cooperative agreement is appropriate, the EPA Project Officer will negotiate with applicants to describe the nature of any collaboration with EPA scientists or engineers. The purpose of this negotiation is to ensure all aspects of the collaboration are clearly understood by the affected parties.

For EPA awards, nonprofit applicants recommended for funding under this announcement will be subject to a pre-award administrative capability review consistent with sections 8.b, 8.c, and 9.d of EPA Order 5700.8, EPA Policy on Assessing Capabilities of Non-Profit Applicants for Managing Assistance Awards (http://www.epa.gov/ogd/grants/regulations.htm). The official notification of an award will be made by the Agency’s Grants Administration Division. Applicants are cautioned that only a grants officer can bind the Government to the expenditure of funds; preliminary selection by the NCER Director in the Office of Research and Development does not guarantee an award will be made. Before or after an award, applicants may be required to provide additional quality assurance documentation.

Projects selected for funding by DOE through this RFA not submitted through grants.gov will be required to submit a DOE Face Page (DOE F 4650.2) and DOE Budget Pages (DOE F4620.1) after they are selected, but before they are funded. These forms can be found at http://www.science.doe.gov/grants exit EPA.

Disputes

Disputes related to this assistance agreement competition will be resolved in accordance with the dispute resolution procedures set forth in 70 FR 3629, 3630 (January 26, 2005) which can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ogd/competition/resolution.htm. Questions regarding disputes may be referred to the Eligibility Contact identified below.

Administrative and National Policy Requirements

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

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

B. Approval of Changes after Award: Prior written approval is required from the EPA if there will be significant change from work described in the application. Examples of these changes are contained in 40 C.F.R. 30.25. Note: prior written approval is also required from the EPA for incurring costs more 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 U.S.C. 2131-2156. The recipient must also agree to abide by the “U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals used in Testing, Research, and Training” (50 Federal Register 20864-20865. May 20,1985).

E. Data Access and Information Release: After award, all data (including primary and secondary/existing 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. If requested, the data products and their metadata must be provided to the NCER Project Officer in a standard exchange format no later than the due date of the grant’s final report or the publication of the data product’s associated results, whichever comes first.

Congress, through OMB, has instructed each federal agency to implement Information Quality Guidelines designed to “provide policy and procedural guidance...for ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information, including statistical information, disseminated by Federal agencies.” The EPA’s implementation may be found at http://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.

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 the EPA regulations at 40 C.F.R. 30.36.

F. 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 are based on research supported by the grant. NCER posts references to all publications resulting from a grant on the NCER web site.

G. 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 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. EPA expects recipients to use this graphic in oral and poster presentations.

H. Acknowledgment of DOE Support: DOE’s full or partial support must be acknowledged in journal articles, oral or poster presentations, news releases, interviews with reporters and other communications. Details about the acknowledgment of support will be provided to PIs selected for support.

VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the EPA officials indicated below. Information regarding this RFA obtained from sources other than these Agency Contacts may not be accurate. Email inquiries are preferred.
Eligibility Contact: Tom Barnwell: 202-343-9862; email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov
Electronic Submissions: Bronda Harrison: 202-564-1790; email: harrison.bronda@epa.gov
EPA Technical Contact: Bernice L. Smith: 202-566-1244; email: smith.bernicel@epa.gov
DOE Technical Contact: Jeff Amthor: 301-903-2507; email: Jeff.Amthor@science.doe.gov

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