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Special Announcement

Valuation for Environmental Policy RFA Closing Date Extended
The closing date for the Valuation for Environmental Policy RFA has been extended from December 1, 2005 to December 19, 2005. This RFA inadvertently was not originally listed on grants.gov. EPA has now posted this RFA on grants.gov and has extended the closing date to December 19, 2005 to accommodate any potential applicants that would have typically applied through grants.gov.

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

Valuation for Environmental Policy

This is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity.

Funding Opportunity Number: USEPA-STAR-2006-A1
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 66.509

Solicitation Opening Date: August 17, 2005
Solicitation Closing Date: December 1, 2005 Extended to: December 19, 2005, 4:00 pm Eastern Time

Eligibility Contact: Tom Barnwell: 202-343-9862; email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov
Electronic Submissions: Bronda Harrison: 202-564-1790; email: harrison.bronda@epa.gov
Technical Contact:Will Wheeler; Phone: 202-343-9828; email: wheeler.william@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
  Administrative and National Policy Requirements
  Reporting
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 in three areas of interest concerning the valuation of policy-relevant changes in environmentally-related human health risks:

  1. studies developing values, functions, and models for estimating the economic value of changes in morbidity risks,
  2. studies developing or improving benefit transfer methods for morbidity valuation,
  3. and studies improving primary methods for morbidity valuation. (As used here, "morbidity" includes all nonfatal, environmentally related health effects.)

Award Information
Anticipated Type of Award: Grant or cooperative agreement
Estimated Number of Awards: Approximately 1-3 awards
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $1 million total for all awards
Potential Funding per Award: Up to $400,000/year with a duration of 2 or 3 years and no more than a total of $1,000,000, including direct and indirect costs. Cost-sharing is not required. Proposals with budgets exceeding the total award limits will not be considered.

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

Application Materials
You may submit either a paper application or an electronic application (but not both) for this announcement. The necessary forms for submitting a STAR application will be found on the NCER web site, http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/. To apply electronically, you must 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.

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: Will Wheeler; phone: 202-343-9828; email: wheeler.william@epa.gov

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

Introduction

Evaluations of the health effects of environmental issues have demonstrated that control of pollution from air, water, and solid and hazardous wastes has provided large public health benefits. However, most of the measured benefits come from estimates of lowered mortality and not morbidity (for example, Portney and Stavins 2000). Public decisions on further environmental protection often depend on sound benefit-cost analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, natural resource damage assessment, or related economic assessments. The need for such analyses is growing and applies to agencies at all levels of government and to private entities. The lack of economic values for the human health risks of morbidity influenced by environmental causes hampers the ability of analysts to conduct accurate benefit-cost analysis for environmental policymaking. EPA is interested in economic valuation research that will enhance the ability of public and private stakeholders to evaluate policies and actions to reduce environmentally-induced morbidity risks. EPA has been supporting a number of valuation-related grants for some time. Information regarding current and completed research can be found on ORD's National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) homepage at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/.

Background

Although environmental economists have provided values suitable for cost-benefit analysis of policies that reduce mortality for decades, corresponding estimates of values for avoiding morbidity have been much more scarce. Cropper (2000) refers to a “dearth” of such studies. In EPA’s recently completed Environmental Economics Research Strategy (U.S. EPA 2005), morbidity research was one of the highest priority research areas, based in large part on the lack of existing estimates.

In addition to developing new estimates of the benefit of changes in environmentally-related morbidity risks, EPA’s research strategy calls for supporting research that develops methods that generate cost-effective and theoretically plausible values for multiple health endpoints at once, such as valuation of symptoms or health status indices, and improves methods for benefit transfer. The priorities in this Request for Applications (RFA) reflect this strategy, as will the priorities in future Valuation for Environmental Policy RFAs.

From 1995-2002, EPA co-sponsored a research competition with the National Science Foundation (initially called Valuation for Environmental Policy, then Decision-Making and Valuation for Environmental Policy). From 2000-2002, EPA also funded a related competition to support research on valuing reduced risks to children’s health. In 2003, EPA merged these into one solicitation on Valuation for Environmental Policy, which has continued annually since then. Information on these previous competitions may be found on the Internet at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/archive/grants/ and descriptions of projects funded under these solicitations can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/grants/recipients_index.html.

The 2003 Valuation for Environmental Policy solicitation had two parts: human health valuation and ecological valuation. The 2004 solicitation focused solely on ecological valuation while this solicitation focuses solely on human health valuation.

The specific EPA Strategic Goal, Objective and Sub-objective that relate to this solicitation include: Goal 5: Compliance and Environmental Stewardship, Objective: 5.4 Enhance Science and Research, Sub-objective: 5.4.2 Conducting Research. The Cross-Goal Strategy: Economic and Policy Analysis also relates to this solicitation. EPA’s Strategic Plan can be found on the following web page: http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/plan/2003sp.pdf (PDF, 239pp., 4.74MB, about PDF).

Authority and Regulations

The authority for this RFA and resulting awards is contained in the Safe Drinking Water Act, Section 1442, 42 U.S.C. 300j-1, the Toxic Substances Control Act, Section 10, 15 U.S.C. 2609, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, Section 20, 7 U.S.C. 136r, the Clean Air Act, Section 103, 42 U.S.C. 7403, the Clean Water Act, Section 104, 33 U.S.C., and the Solid Waste Disposal Act, Section 8001, 42 U.S.C. 6901.

Specific Research Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes

To address needs for the valuation of human health risks, the Agency is soliciting research which is expected to result in the following expected outcomes in three areas of interest concerning the valuation of policy-relevant changes in environmentally-related human health risks:

  1. studies developing values, functions, and models for estimating the economic value of changes in morbidity risks (Improved Valuation of Morbidity Benefits),
  2. studies developing or improving benefit transfer methods for morbidity valuation (Benefit Transfer),
  3. and studies improving primary methods for morbidity valuation (Methodological Improvements).

Proposals that address multiple areas of interest are encouraged, although proposals responding to the third area of interest must also respond to the first area of interest. Investigators should clearly indicate to which areas of interest they are responding and the research plan accompanying the proposal should also clearly indicate how each of the proposal’s objectives relate to these areas. See Section IV.E for Research Plan page limits.

The outputs of the proposed projects are reports, presentations, and peer-reviewed journal publications. The desired outcomes of the proposed projects are research results to provide values for human health risks suitable for cost-benefit analysis and improved methods for benefit transfer and economic valuation that will, in turn, lead to better analysis and decision making.

Area of Interest 1: Improved Valuation of Morbidity Benefits

This solicitation emphasizes the valuation of policy-relevant, environmentally-induced morbidity risks. The economic literature on the valuation of human health risks is growing, but there remain a large number of environmentally-related risks for which value estimates are not available. Analysts routinely estimate the value of mortality risks when evaluating environmental policy options, although most policies reduce both mortality and morbidity risks. While there is a substantial literature dealing with the valuation of adult mortality risks, estimates of the value of morbidity risk reductions are less common. EPA is most interestedin studies that will provide theoretically sound empirical results suitable for application and transfer to a variety of situations.

Any empirically and theoretically sound methods used by environmental economists to estimate willingness-to-pay (WTP) for health improvements are within the scope of this solicitation. EPA is not soliciting studies that solely provide cost of illness estimates because WTP estimates are theoretically superior (CHPAC 1999, Freeman 2003, SAB 2004b). Cases for which productivity losses and medical costs associated with illness are not borne by the individual are exceptions. In these cases, estimates of productivity losses (the so-called indirect costs of illness) and medical costs (the direct costs of illness) must be added to WTP estimates to determine total welfare losses (SAB 2004b). Such combined estimates are within the scope of this solicitation.

Priority Endpoints

All policy-relevant, environmentally-induced morbidity risks are within the scope of this solicitation. However, for studies responding to Area of Interest 1, funding priority will be placed on studies that value one or more of the following risks:

  • Developmental and reproductive outcomes (such as low birth weight, birth defects, infertility, fetal loss, and developmental, cognitive, and behavioral effects) induced by endocrine-disrupting chemicals, lead, mercury, and other neurotoxicants, cholinesterase-inhibiting chemicals, persistent organic pollutants, and other compounds.
  • Heart ailments (e.g., non-fatal heart attacks, atherosclerosis), high blood pressure/hypertension (especially leading to heart disease), and pulmonary illnesses, due to exposure to particulate matter, ozone, and other pollutants.
  • Gastrointestinal illness (e.g., nausea, diarrhea, vomiting) and chronic problems such as reactive arthritis, kidney damage, and chronic diarrhea often associated with drinking water contaminants.

Valuation scenarios should be based on realistic actual or perceived changes in risks associated with environmental policies or governmental interventions or relevant behavioral actions. EPA is particularly interested in scenarios with well-characterized and accurate depictions of latency periods and cessation lags (see SAB 2001, 2004a). EPA is not requesting studies valuing mortality except for studies that examine risks with morbidity and mortality effects jointly in a unifying framework.

Use of Indicators, Indices, etc.

EPA wishes to investigate valuation methods that employ human health indicators, indices, symptoms, or other devices to characterize or serve as proxies for specific health states. EPA is interested in how such methods can be used and how they compare with more conventional valuation of specific health states (e.g., Johnson et al. 1997). For example, increases in levels of C-reactive protein and certain other hematological indices can be attributed to exposure to fine particulate matter in air (Ghio et al. 2003; Riediker et al. 2004) and levels of C-reactive protein in blood are increasingly being discussed as an important indicator of heart disease (Pearson et al. 2003). Proposals could provide and compare values for a specific health endpoint (in this example, heart disease) and also the associated indicators.

EPA is not interested in funding studies that compare WTP and a health index measure if the relationship between the two measures is well known (e.g., as is the case with WTP and quality-adjusted life-years, see for example, Freeman et al. 2002). However, EPA is interested in studies that employ specific components of health indices to characterize health effects. Studies may also value symptoms or functional limitations (characterized by severity, duration and frequency), which, in turn, are related to illnesses. The valuation of outcomes (e.g., hospital admissions or school loss days) are within the scope of this solicitation.

Children’s Health

Federal policy encourages health and safety regulations to recognize and explicitly account for risks to children (for example, under the Food Quality Protection Act and Executive Order 13045). This solicitation therefore also encourages projects that include a children’s health valuation component. Research has shown that children differ from adults in both the type and the severity of environmentally-induced health effects. For example, lead and other toxicants have lifelong effects when children are exposed. However, economic assessments have not always included appropriate values because valuation studies have typically focused on individual adults’ willingness to pay to reduce risks to themselves, not children. Thus information about the value of reducing risks to children is limited even as this information has become critical for selecting appropriate risk-reducing policies and actions. Because of these limitations, this solicitation particularly encourages studies that will improve the valuation of children’s health conditions that are caused by environmental influences. EPA encourages proposals that investigate risks affecting multiple age groups to evaluate children as a distinct group. These proposals may include different methodologies for different age groups.

Variability in Estimates

Researchers are also encouraged to investigate how values for health risk reductions vary systematically with the characteristics of the health risk and the population experiencing the risk, including family/household structure (e.g., presence, absence, or number of children/parents in household). EPA is most interested in this question when the health risk is known to vary across individuals (CHPAC 1999, SAB 2004b). Example characteristics include:

  • age, income, and other demographic variables,
  • health status (pre-existing conditions) or baseline quality of life,
  • severity characterized by degree of pain and suffering or functional limitations,
  • disproportionate risk to vulnerable or sensitive populations (especially children),
  • expected remaining life years,
  • risk dimensions such as whether risks are considered voluntary/involuntary, ordinary/catastrophic, delayed/immediate, natural/man-made, old/new, controllable/uncontrollable, necessary/unnecessary, and occasional/continuous.

Additional Information

At this time, EPA is not requesting proposals investigating the valuation of childhood asthma. EPA (including NCER and the National Center for Environmental Economics) and other funding agencies are currently funding several studies in these areas and as these research efforts progress, EPA will evaluate the need for, and may solicit, further research on this topic. Further, EPA does not plan to support studies that estimate new values for risks with existing credible values. Funding priority will be given to studies that develop credible and accurate values for health risks currently without such values (i.e., risks for which no values exist or existing values are derived from a cost-of-illness approach or outdated methods or data). See U.S. EPA 2000a, U.S. EPA 2000b, U.S. EPA 2001, and U.S. EPA n.d. for inventories of cost-of-illness and WTP values for morbidity. Funding priority will be placed on studies that involve interdisciplinary teams of researchers that include health scientists to assist in the development of realistic scenarios that include risk changes that are based on current science and policy-relevant, marginal risk changes.

Area of Interest 2: Benefit Transfer

Time and cost considerations often preclude collecting new data and using a primary valuation method to estimate benefits for economic analyses. Policymakers usually rely on benefit transfer methods instead (Smith et al. 2002). Benefit transfer methods apply values or functions estimated in previous study cases to new policy cases (see Boyle and Bergstrom 1992, and accompanying papers, for a description of benefit transfer methods). However, many evaluations of benefit transfer methods have identified problems with aggregation, differences in goods between the policy and study cases, out-of-sample extrapolation, violations of utility theory, and a lack of values that correspond to the marginal changes of policy interest (e.g., Bergstrom and De Civita 1999, Smith and Pattanayak 2002, Smith et al. 2002). Very few benefit transfer studies have looked at health values (Kask and Shogren 1994 is one exception). Thus, EPA is interested in proposals for improving existing benefit transfer methods for morbidity or developing more accurate transfer methods.

One potential area of research is to examine whether it is possible to use information contained in indicators, symptoms, functional limitations, or indices of human health states as the basis for transferring benefit estimates from one health endpoint to another or from one group of individuals to another. For example, Johnson et al. (1997) is an initial step in this direction.

A number of studies involving meta-analysis have also been conducted to summarize and synthesize valuation research, especially for benefit transfer. Few studies have addressed the complexities of applying meta-analysis in policy-relevant benefit transfer contexts where baseline conditions, uncertainty about changes in risk, small marginal risk changes, and/or the need for non-use values are important considerations. Meta-analyses addressing these issues with respect to health effects are also within the scope of this solicitation.

To be within the scope of Area of Interest 2, the proposal must identify specific objectives or hypotheses regarding benefit transfer. Providing values that could be used in a benefit transfer is insufficient to be within the scope of Area of Interest 2.

Area of Interest 3: Methodological Improvements

The SAB’s review of EPA’s Environmental Economics Research Strategy identified a number of priority methodological/theoretical questions. These questions form the basis for the list below. Methodological or theoretical studies outside of these areas may be funded, but EPA will place funding priority on the questions below. These questions are listed in descending order of funding priority. (Note: regardless of the methodological questions listed below, EPA is not requesting that researchers use any particular method to respond to the Area of Interest 1.) Studies responding to Area of Interest 3 must also respond to the Area of Interest 1, Improved Valuation of Morbidity Benefits. Proposals responding to both of these areas of interest should be balanced across both areas of interest.

  1. What are the most appropriate ways to combine stated and revealed preference data for valuing human health risks and what gains are made by combining both types of data? What gains can be made from this approach? Combining stated and revealed preference data can provide some advantages compared to using just one of the two (e.g., Adamowicz et al. 1994). However, this approach may not be straightforward (e.g., Huang et al. 1997). Research that elucidates the advantages and/or disadvantages of combining stated and revealed preference data is of interest.
  2. What is the income elasticity of WTP for health risk reductions over time? Benefit-cost analyses of environmental regulations have often adjusted the future value of human health risk reductions to account for income growth. While adjustments have typically been based on cross-sectional income elasticity estimates, such adjustments would be better based on estimates of the income elasticity of WTP for health risk reductions over time. Recently, concerns have been raised regarding the appropriateness of using existing income elasticity estimates (SAB 2004a, 2004b) and EPA is soliciting new estimates of these elasticities.
  3. How valid and reliable are different data collection methods for valuing human health risks? Various survey methods have different advantages and disadvantages in terms of response rates, non-response bias, and interviewer bias. In particular, the Internet is rapidly becoming one of the preferred vehicles for implementing stated preference surveys, because of its flexible format and the ease of distribution and data collection it affords. However, there are also questions about the representativeness of Internet surveys due to their cumulative response rates (e.g., Smith 2001, Chang and Krosnik 2003). Thus, studies are needed that measure the relative validity and reliability of different modes of survey administration for use in environmental valuation.
  4. What is the appropriate opportunity cost of time to use in revealed preference studies? Previous research has shown that small differences in assumptions about the value of time used in revealed preference studies can yield large differences in the estimates of welfare (e.g., Feather and Shaw 1999). Thus, EPA is soliciting proposals to 1) identify the correct assumptions about the opportunity cost of time and 2) to simultaneously estimate the opportunity cost of time and the value of human health risks.
  5. For what kinds of health risks will willingness-to-pay and willingness-to-accept (WTA) differ significantly, and by how much will they differ? Although the appropriate measure of value to use for benefit-cost analysis in a particular policy setting depends on the nature of the property rights that exist among those impacted by the policy, in practice the appropriate measure is not usually obvious (Freeman 2003). There is also substantial evidence that differences between WTP and WTA can be significant (e.g., Horowitz and McConnell 2002). EPA is not funding studies that only estimate the difference between these measures of value; to be funded, studies would have to develop and test hypotheses for this difference. The goal of these studies should be to improve the measurement and transfer of both WTP and WTA in new policy contexts. EPA is also seeking applications for research that identifies policy contexts when willingness-to-accept can or should be used.
  6. What are the most efficient bid designs for discrete choice stated preference studies and how do deviations from efficient bid design affect value estimates? Discrete choice stated preference studies require the researcher to define the bid distribution for respondents but much of the literature concerning bid design is based on an assumption of knowing the true distribution when it is, in fact, unknown. EPA is soliciting proposals to measure – and develop methods to decrease – potential bias and inefficiency from suboptimal designs. EPA is also seeking proposals for bid design research that develops methods that do not depend on an assumed true distribution or that use information to improve the bid distribution.

The scope of research proposals investigating any methodological and theoretical issues can be for any environmentally-induced human health risk. However, any data collection designed to generate new values, functions, or models must conform to the scope described in the section Improved Valuation of Morbidity Benefits.

References

Adamowicz, W., J. Louviere, and M. Williams. 1994. “Combining Revealed and Stated Preferences Methods for Valuing Environmental Amenities.” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 26: 271-292.

Bergstrom, John C., and Paul De Civita. 1999. “Status of Benefits Transfer in the United States and Canada: A Review.” Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics 47: 79-87.

Boyle, Kevin J., and John C. Bergstom. 1992. “Benefit Transfer Studies: Myths, Pragmatism, and Idealism.” Water Resources Research 28: 657-663.

Chang, LinChiat, and Jon A. Krosnick. 2003. “National Surveys Via RDD Telephone Interviewing vs. the Internet: Comparing Sample Representativeness and Response Quality.” Working Paper. ( http://www.psy.ohio-state.edu/social/CSR-KN-HI.doc) exit EPA

Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee (CHPAC). 1999. “Letter to Administrator Browner on valuing children's health in economic assessments.” (http://yosemite.epa.gov/ochp/ochpweb.nsf/content/whatwe_roulett.htm)

Cropper, Maureen. 2000. “Has Economic Research Answered the Needs of Environmental Policy?” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 39: 328-350.

Feather, Peter M., and W. Douglass Shaw. 1999. “Estimating the Cost of Leisure Time for Recreation Demand Models.” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 38: 49-65.

Freeman, A. Myrick III. 2003. The Measurement of Environmental and Resource Values: Theory and Methods. 2nd edition. Washington, DC: Resources for the Future.

Freeman, A. Myrick III, James K. Hammitt, and Paul De Civita. 2002. “On Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY) and Environmental/Consumer Safety Valuation.” AERE Newsletter 22, no. 1: 7-11.

Ghio, A. J., A. Hall, R. B. Devlin, M. Basset, and W. Casio. 2003. “Exposure to Concentrated Ambient Air Particles Alters Hematologic Indices in Humans.” Inhalation Toxicology 15(14):1465-1478.

Horowitz, John, and Kenneth E. McConnell. 2002. “A Review of WTA/WTP Studies.” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 44: 426-47.

Huang, Ju-Chin, Timothy C. Haab, and John C. Whitehead. 1997. “Willingness to Pay for Quality Improvements: Should Revealed and Stated Preference Data Be Combined?” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 34: 240-255.

Johnson, F. Reed, Erin E. Fries and H. Spencer Banzhaf. 1997. “Valuing morbidity: An integration of the willingness-to-pay and health-status index literatures.” Journal of Health Economics: 641-665.

Kask, Susan B., and Jason F. Shogren. 1994, "Benefit Transfer Protocol for Long Term Health Risk Valuation: A Case of Surface Water Contamination." Water Resources Research 30: 2813-2823.

Pearson, T.A. et al. 2003. “Markers of Inflammation and Cardiovascular Disease.” Circulation 107:299.

Portney, Paul R., and Robert N. Stavins, Eds. 2000. Public Policies for Environmental Protection. Second Edition. Washington, DC: Resources for the Future.

Riediker, M., W. Cascio, T. R. Griggs, M. Herbst, P. A. Bromberg, L. Neas, R. W. Williams, and R. B. Devlin. 2004. “Particulate Matter Exposure in Cars Is Associated With Cardiovascular Effects in Healthy Young Men.” American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 169 (April): 934-940..

Smith, Tom W. 2001. “Are Representative Internet Surveys Possible?” Proceedings of Statistics Canada Symposium 2001, Achieving Data Quality in a Statistical Agency: A Methodological Perspective. (http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/11-522-XIE/2001001/session18/s18d.pdf) exit EPA

Smith, V. Kerry, and Subhrendu K. Pattanayak. 2002. “Is Meta-Analysis a Noah’s Ark for Non-Market Valuation?” Environmental and Resource Economics 22: 271-296.

Smith, V. Kerry, George Van Houtven, and Subhrendu K. Pattanayak. 2002. “Benefit Transfer via Preference Calibration: ‘Prudential Algebra’ for Policy.” Land Economics 78: 132-152.

U.S. EPA 2000a. Guidelines for Preparing Economic Analyses. EPA 240-R-00-003. (http://yosemite.epa.gov/ee/epa/eed.nsf/webpages/Guidelines.html)

U.S. EPA 2000b. Handbook for Non-Cancer Health Effects Valuation. (http://www.epa.gov/osa/spc/noncancer.htm)

U.S. EPA 2001. Children’s Health Valuation Handbook. EPA 100-R-01-002. (http://yosemite.epa.gov/ee/epa/eed.nsf/webpages/HandbookChildrensHealthValuation.html)

U.S. EPA. n.d. Cost of Illness Handbook. ( http://www.epa.gov/oppt/coi/view.html)

U.S. EPA. 2005. Environmental Economics Research Strategy.

U.S. EPA, Science Advisory Board (SAB). 2001. Arsenic Rule Benefits Analysis: An SAB Review. EPA-SAB-EC-01-008. (http://www.epa.gov/sab/pdf/ec01008.pdf)

U.S. EPA, Science Advisory Board (SAB). 2004a. Review of the Revised Analytical Plan for EPA’s Second Prospective Analysis - Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act 1990-2020. EPA-SAB-COUNCIL-ADV-04-004. (http://www.epa.gov/sab/pdf/council_adv_04004.pdf)

U.S. EPA, Science Advisory Board (SAB). 2004b. Review of the Environmental Economics Research Strategy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA-SAB-040007. (http://www.epa.gov/sab/pdf/sab_04007.pdf)

Special Requirements

This solicitation’s priority is empirical results; however, proposals that also include theoretical innovations may be successful. All proposals must demonstrate a sound basis in neoclassical economic theory and familiarity with the relevant theoretical and empirical literature. Successful proposals will demonstrate a thorough understanding of similar research and clearly articulate the policy and scientific contribution that will be made by the proposed research.

All investigators whose proposals value specific health risks should explicitly describe or cite the epidemiological, risk assessment, or other basis that would be used to predict changes in these risks.

EPA recognizes that proposals responding to Area of Interest 1, Improved Valuation of Morbidity Benefits, will likely require collaboration among researchers representing a variety of disciplines including economists, health scientists such as epidemiologists or toxicologists, statisticians, and other social scientists (CHPAC 1999, SAB 2004b). EPA encourages this collaboration. EPA recognizes that this collaboration is not always easy but is placing funding priority on proposals that involve an integrated, interdisciplinary team of researchers. Investigators should therefore explain the extent of this collaboration. Investigators should also recognize that the review process will involve a variety of disciplines and investigators should provide a balance between technical detail and accessibility other disciplines. Furthermore, proposers should recognize that the review process has two parts: an external peer review and internal programmatic review. Proposals should be balanced and responsive to both review panels. See V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION, below.

If an applicant is proposing to conduct a survey, the research plan must contain justification for the size of the proposed sample for both the overall project and all subsamples for specific treatments or tests. This justification should be based on appropriate statistical techniques (e.g., an evaluation of statistical power). This information will be used in the review process; see V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION, below.

The application must include a plan (see “Data Plan” in section IV.E.) to make available to the public all data generated from observations, analyses, or model development (primary data) and any secondary (or existing) data used under a grant awarded from this RFA. The data must be available in a format and with documentation such that they may be used by others in the scientific community.

These awards may involve the collection of “Geospatial Information,” which include information that identifies the geographic location and characteristics of natural or constructed features or boundaries on the Earth or applications, tools, and hardware associated with the generation, maintenance, or distribution of such information. This information may be derived from, among other things, Geographic Positioning System (GPS), remote sensing, mapping, charting, and surveying technologies, or statistical data.

II. AWARD INFORMATION

It is anticipated that a total of approximately $1 million will be awarded under this announcement, depending on the availability of funds. The EPA anticipates funding approximately 1-3 grants or cooperative agreements under this RFA. The projected award is $100,000 to $400,000 per year total costs, for up to 3 years. Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $1,000,000, 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.

The larger funding amounts will be reserved for proposals that have some or all of the following characteristics: include interdisciplinary teams, respond to multiple areas of interest, investigate multiple health endpoints, and include original data collections. Proposals requesting the full amount of $1 million must include all of these characteristics.

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.

EPA will fund either 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 interaction between its own 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, collaborations 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, the refinement of valuation endpoints, 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.

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 and cooperative agreements 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 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 or cooperative agreements 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 (i.e., propose research which primarily benefits a Federal program or provides a service for EPA) will not be funded.

Proposals that address multiple areas of interest are encouraged, although proposals responding to the third area of interest that do not respond to the first area of interest 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/.

Instructions for these forms follow (do not use the instructions provided on the NCER web site).

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

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. Applicants should consult http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants/spoc.html exit EPAto 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 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 for 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. 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.

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 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 area and associated sorting code for this RFA is: USEPA-STAR-2006-A1
  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 (15-25 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.

For proposals responding to only one of the areas of interest, 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.

Investigators proposing research in two or three of these areas of interest are may devote extra space to their research plan. Investigators proposing research in two of these areas of interest are granted 5 extra pages (for a total of 20) for their Research Plan of 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced, standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins. Investigators proposing research in all three of these areas of interest are granted 10 extra pages (for a total of 25) of 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced, standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins for their Research Plan. Proposals using the extra page limits must contain hypotheses or objectives specific to the additional area(s) of interest. (For example, proposals must include a benefit transfer experiment, a meta-analysis, or a similar objective in order to full address Area of Interest 2, Benefit Transfer. Simply developing values that could be used in a benefit transfer is not adequate to justify the additional pages.) Investigators should clearly indicate to which areas of interest they are responding and the research plan should also clearly indicate how each of the proposal’s objectives relate to these areas. Investigators should also strive to provide a balanced discussion of all aspects of the proposal.

All investigators whose proposals value specific health risks should explicitly describe or cite the epidemiological, risk assessment, or other basis that would be used to predict changes in these risks.

If an applicant is proposing to conduct a survey, the research plan must contain justification for the size of the proposed sample for both the overall project and all subsamples for specific treatments or tests. This justification should be based on appropriate statistical techniques (e.g., an evaluation of statistical power).

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-to-25-page Research Plan limit. Appendices may be included but must remain within the 15-to-25-page limit.

Quality Assurance Statement (2 pages in addition to the 15-to-25-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 pages in addition to the 15-to-25-page research plan)

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 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.

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.

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 www.grants.gov. Applications received after the closing date will be returned to the sender without further consideration.

Solicitation Closing Date: December 1, 2005 December 19, 2005, 4:00 pm Eastern Time

Earliest Anticipated Start Date: September 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.

Proposals that address multiple areas of interest are encouraged, although proposals responding to the third area of interest must also respond to the first area of interest.

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)
Sorting Code: 2006-STAR-A1
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: 2006-STAR-A1
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 USEPA-STAR-2006-A1. 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). 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 daysof 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. Prepare a document containing the Data Plan, label it DataPlan, and submit it as an “Add Optional 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,
    • program balance,
    • the applicant’s past performance and reporting,
    • organizational experience, and
  • available program funds from STAR and the congressionally mandated Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCOR): http://www.epa.gov/ncer/other/.

In addition, as part of the programmatic review, EPA will give funding priority to studies that:

  • derive values for the priority endpoints listed in Area of Interest 1,
  • involve interdisciplinary teams of researchers that include health scientists to assist in the development of realistic scenarios that include risks changes that are based on current science and policy-relevant, marginal risk changes (particularly scenarios with well-characterized and accurate depictions of latency periods and cessation lags),
  • develop credible and accurate values for health risks currently without such values, and/or
  • investigate the priority methodological questions listed in Area of Interest 3.

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 and may consider information from other sources including agency files.

In determining the amount of awards, the larger funding amounts will be reserved for proposals that have some or all of the following characteristics: include interdisciplinary teams, respond to multiple areas of interest, investigate multiple health endpoints, and include original data collections. Proposals requesting the full amount of $1 million must include all of these characteristics.

Final funding decisions are made by the NCER Director 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 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.

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.

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 inquiriesre 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
Technical Contact:Will Wheeler; Phone: 202-343-9828; email: wheeler.william@epa.gov

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