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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 REFERENCES PURPOSES ONLY

Implications of Tropospheric Air Pollution for Surface UV Exposures

This is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity.

Funding Opportunity Number: EPA-G2006-STAR-D1
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 66.509

Solicitation Opening Date: October 4, 2005
Solicitation Closing Date: January 18, 2006, 4:00 pm Eastern Standard Time

Eligibility Contact: Tom Barnwell; phone: 202-343-9862; email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov
Electronic Submissions Contact: Bronda Harrison; phone: 202-564-1790; email: harrison.bronda@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 Person(s)
I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION
  Introduction
  Background
  Authority and Regulation
  Specific Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes
  References
  Special Requirements
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
  Disputes
  Administrative and National Policy Requirements
VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Access Standard STAR Forms http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/
View research awarded under previous solicitations (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/archive/grants/)

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 research to better understand the effect of tropospheric pollution (ozone and particulate matter) on surface ultraviolet radiation levels.

Award Information

Anticipated Type of Award: Grant
Estimated Number of Awards: Approximately 2 awards
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $600,000 total for all awards
Potential Funding per Grant: Total of $300,000, 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 National Center for Environmental Reserach (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 (see “Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications”) exit EPA. 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.

Contact Person(s):

Eligibility Contact: Tom Barnwell; phone: 202-343-9862; email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov
Electronic Submissions Contact: Bronda Harrison; phone: 202-564-1790; email: harrison.bronda@epa.gov
Technical Contact: Darrell Winner; phone: 703-347-0210; email: winner.darrell@epa.gov

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

Introduction

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) has significant health and ecosystem impacts. Under current conditions, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime and one American dies every hour from this devastating disease. Changes in air quality affect UV exposures in ways that we do not fully understand. The goal of this solicitation is to enable research to better understand how changes in tropospheric ozone and particulate matter will alter surface UV exposures.

Background

Several different US government agencies operate UV monitoring programs that employ instrumentation falling into three distinctly different categories: broad-band sensors of radiation intensity within a spectral region between two specified levels, narrow-band instruments measuring radiation in several well-defined wavelength intervals, and spectral devices providing detailed information on radiation intensity as a function of wavelength. Details about the various UV monitoring networks can be found via the web at: http://www.arl.noaa.gov/research/programs/uv.html. exit EPA

Between 1996 and 2004, EPA, in conjunction with the National Park Service, operated a 21-site monitoring network with a goal of characterizing UV exposures and trends in a range of ecoregions across the United States. This 21-site network used Brewer Mark IV single-monochromator spectrophotometers, which measure UV radiation levels reaching the Earth’s surface at 0.5 nm increments over the wavelength range 286.3-363 nm, providing information on UV-B and UV-A exposures. The data from this network are available via the web at http://www.epa.gov/uvnet/. A review of the data collected by this network was recently completed and is available in draft form at http://www.geecresearch.com/EPAUV.htm. exit EPA

EPA is currently working with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Central UV Calibration Facility (CUCF) to redeploy its Brewer instruments at six sites, some of which are part of networks operated by NOAA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The new network will include a triad of Brewers at CUCF’s Table Mountain Test Facility, where the Brewers will be compared to NOAA’s reference spectroradiometer. The new network configuration is intended to help characterize the performance of the Brewers and to collect information relevant to quantifying the effects of tropospheric ozone and fine particles on surface UV levels and radiative forcing.

A good summary of air quality data resources available on the web can be found at: http://vista.cira.colostate.edu/views/Web/Catalog/Catalog_AQ.htm exit EPA. EPA air quality data can be accessed from http://www.epa.gov/ttn/airs/airsaqs/detaildata/downloadaqsdata.htm.

Previous research indicates that some particles enhance ozone formation by scattering UV, while other particles decrease ozone formation by absorbing UV (Dickerson et al., 1997; Jacobson, 1998). It has been suggested that increases in PM10 and black carbon may account for the inability to detect trends in surface UV radiation related to changes in stratospheric ozone concentrations (Barnard et al., 2003). A radiative transfer model coupled into a three dimensional air quality model successfully predicted surface UV measurements (Ying and Kleeman, 2003). This model also predicts significantly lower ozone and particulate matter concentrations compared to air quality models using decoupled radiative calculations or sparse measurement networks. Using detailed measurements, Vuilleumier et al (2001) show that decoupled radiative transfer models overpredict the NO2 photolysis rate by 25%.

The specific Strategic Goal, Objective and Sub-objective from EPA's Strategic Plan that relate to this solicitation include:

Goal 4: Healthy Communities and Ecosystems, Objective 4.4: Enhance Science and Research, Sub-objective 4.4.2: Conduct Relevant Research

The EPA's Strategic Plan can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/plan/2003sp.pdf (PDF, 239 pp., 4.7 MB, about PDF).

Authority and Regulations

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

Specific Research Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes

This RFA solicits proposals that address the following key question:

How do changes in tropospheric pollution (ozone and particulate matter) affect surface UV radiation levels and human exposures to UV?

Proposals may also address one of more of the following questions, in addition to the key question:

1. What can we learn from historical surface UV monitoring data for modeling surface UV radiation and exposures? What parameters need to be addressed as part of continuing UV monitoring efforts to improve modeling of surface UV radiation and exposure?

2. How do clouds and other meteorological conditions affect surface UV levels and exposures?

3. How do surface UV observations compare to space-based measurements of UV?

4. How do changes in surface UV levels due to tropospheric pollution or meteorological conditions compare to changes in surface UV levels due to variations in stratospheric ozone concentrations?

5. How do changes in surface UV levels due to tropospheric ozone compare to changes in surface UV due to particulate matter or other tropospheric pollutants?

The outputs of the proposed projects are reports, presentations, and peer-reviewed journal publications. The expected outcome of this research is improved information and understanding regarding the ways changing air quality affects UV exposures that will, in turn, lead to better analysis and decision-making.

References

Barnard, W. F., Saxena, V. K., Wenny, B. N., DeLuisi, J. J., Daily Surface UV Exposure and its Relationship to Surface Pollutant Measurements, JAWMA, 53:237-245, 2003.

Dickerson, R. R., Kondragunta, S., Stenchikov, G., Civerolo, K. L., Doddridge, B. G., Holben, B. N., The Impact of Aerosols on Solar Ultraviolet Radiation and Photochemical Smog, Science, 1997 278: 827-830.

Jacobson, M. Z., Studying the effects of aerosols on vertical photolysis rate coefficient and temperature profiles over an urban airshed, J. Geophys. Res., 103, 10,593-10,604, 1998.

Vuilleumier, L., J. T. Bamer, R. A. Harley and N. J. Brown, Evaluation of nitrogen dioxide photolysis rates in an urban area using data from the 1997 Southern California Ozone Study, Atmospheric Environment, Volume 35, Issue 36, 2001, Pages 6525-6537.

Ying, Q., and M. J. Kleeman, Effects of aerosol UV extinction on the formation of ozone and secondary particulate matter, Atmospheric Environment, Volume 37, Issue 36, November 2003, Pages 5047-5068.

Special Requirements

Agency policy prevents EPA scientists and engineers from providing individual applicants with information that would provide them with an unfair competitive advantage. Consequently, EPA 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.

II. AWARD INFORMATION

It is anticipated that a total of approximately $600,000 will be awarded under this announcement, depending on the availability of funds. The EPA anticipates funding approximately 2 grants under this RFA. The projected award per grant is $100,000 per year total costs, for up to 3 years. Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $300,000, 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. 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.

EPA intends to fund grants rather than cooperative agreements under this announcement. Agency scientists and engineers will not be substantially involved in grants 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 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 that lobby are not eligible to apply.

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

Federal Agencies may not apply. Federal employees are not eligible to serve in a principal leadership role on 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. In addition, an appropriate form of assurance that documents the commitment, such as a letter of intent from the Federal Agency involved, should be included.

Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact 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 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. Applications that fail to demonstrate a public purpose of support or stimulation, such as by proposing research which primarily benefits a Federal program or provides a service for EPA will not be funded.

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 a Application Package

For paper applications, forms 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.html (see “Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications”) exit EPA.

For both paper and electronic applications, an email will be sent by NCER to the Principal Investigator and the Administrative Contact (see below) to acknowledge receipt of the application and transmit other important information. The email will be sent from receipt.application@epa.gov; 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. Failure to do so may result in your application not being reviewed. 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.

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

Executive Order 12372, “Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs,” applies to most EPA programs and assistance agreements, unless the program or assistance agreement supports tribal, training/fellowships (other than Wastewater and Small Water Systems Operator training programs), and research and development (with some exceptions). Item 16 of the SF424 refers to this requirement. Selection of research proposals is limited to those administered by EPA’s Office of Research and Development which: (a) require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS); or (b) do not require an EIS but will be newly initiated at a particular site and require unusual measures to limit the possibility of adverse exposure or hazard to the general public; or (c) have a unique geographic focus and are directly relevant to the governmental responsibilities of a State or local government within that geographic area. Otherwise, national research programs are exempt from review. Applicants should consult http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants/spoc.html exit EPA to determine whether their state participates in this process and how to comply.

B. Key Contacts

The applicant must complete the "Key Contacts" Form 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. The Key Contacts form should also be completed for major sub-agreements (i.e., contacts at the institutions for primary co-investigators). Please make certain that all contact information is accurate.

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 (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 associated sorting code for this RFA are: EPA-G2006-STAR-D1, Implications Of Tropospheric Air Pollution For Surface UV Exposures

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 from the EPA (include direct and indirect costs for all grant years).

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: Without duplicating terms already used in the text of the abstract, list keywords to assist database searchers in finding your research. A list of suggested keywords can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms.

E. Research Plan and Quality Assurance Statement

Research Plan

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

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

The description must provide the following information:

1. Objectives: List the objectives of the proposed research and the hypotheses being tested during the project, and briefly state why the intended research is important. 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 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: 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 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 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 (2 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.

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 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 this agreement 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, 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 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 EPA 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 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 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.

Funding Opportunity Number

At various places in the application, applicants are asked to identify the funding opportunity number. The number 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 number 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 funding opportunity number.

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 may be changed without prior notification 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 Date: January 18, 2006, 4:00 pm Eastern Time

Earliest Anticipated Start Date: June 2006

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 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. 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, paper 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)
Funding Opportunity Number: EPA-G2006-STAR-D1
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)
Funding Opportunity Number: EPA-G2006-STAR-D1
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 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 EPA-G2006-STAR-D1. Be sure to download the electronic application package for the appropriate funding opportunity number or topic area. It is recommended that you "Register to Receive Notification" of solicitation 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). See http://www.grants.gov/, exit EPA "Get Started" for further information. The registration process may take a week or longer. 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. Prior to preparing the electronic application package, view files for any PDF conversion errors. 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.

  1. Application for Federal Assistance (SF-424)
    1. Complete the form. There are no attachments.
  2. EPA Key Contacts Form 5700-54
    1. Complete the form.
    2. If additional pages are needed, see "E. Other Attachments Form" below.
  3. 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. 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.
      1. Label your Budget document Budget and submit it as the "Add Mandatory Budget Narrative."
      2. 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 IV. 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.
  5. 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, 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):
    1. The originality and creativity of the proposed research, the appropriateness and adequacy of the proposed research methods, and the Quality Assurance Statement.
    2. Is the research approach practical and technically defensible, and can the project be performed within the proposed time period?
    3. Will the research contribute to scientific knowledge in the topic area?
    4. What are the projected benefits of the proposed activity to society, such as improving the environment or human health?
    5. Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding?
    6. 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 by the EPA 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.

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 EPA research priorities,
  • the applicant’s past performance and reporting, and
  • organizational experience.

The purpose of the programmatic review is to assure an integrated research portfolio for the Agency and help determine which applications to recommend for award. In conducting the programmatic review, the EPA will consider information provided by the applicant and may consider information from other sources including agency files.

Final funding decisions are made by the NCER Director based on the results of the peer review and internal programmatic review. In addition, in making the final funding decisions, the NCER Director may also consider program balance and available funds from the STAR program and the congressionally mandated Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCOR) (see http://www.epa.gov/ncer/other/). Applicants selected for funding will be required to provide additional information listed below under “Award Notices.” The application will then be forwarded to EPA’s grants administration office for award in accordance with the EPA’s 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. EPA Project Officers will contact Principal Investigators to obtain these materials.

Nonprofit applicants recommended for funding under this announcement will be subject to a preaward 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.

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 were 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 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. Information regarding this RFA obtained from sources other than these Agency Contacts may not be accurate. Email inquiries are preferred.

Eligibility Contact: Tom Barnwell; phone: 202-343-9862; email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov
Electronic Submissions Contact: Bronda Harrison; phone: 202-564-1790; email: harrison.bronda@epa.gov
Technical Contact: Darrell Winner; phone: 703-347-0210; email: winner.darrell@epa.gov

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