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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory,
Mid-Continent Ecology Division (NHEERL-MED)

CLOSED - FOR REFERENCE PURPOSES ONLY

Cooperative Training Partnership in Aquatic Toxicology and Ecosystem Research

This is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity.

Funding Opportunity Number: EPA-ORD-TBN 25991
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 66.515

Solicitation Opening Date: May 18, 2006
Solicitation Extended Closing Date: August 1, 2006, 4:00 pm Eastern Standard Time

Electronic Submissions: Craig L. Johnson, phone: (218) 529-5016 email: johnson.craig@epa.gov

Table of Contents:
SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
  General Information
  Eligible Applicants
  Federal Agency Name
  Description
  Application Materials
  Contact Person(s)
  Link to Full Announcement
I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION
  Background
  Funding Priorities/Focus
  Environmental Results
  Statutory Authority for Award of Assistance
II. AWARD INFORMATION
III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION
  Eligible Applicants
  Cost Sharing Requirements
  Other Eligibility Criteria
  Intergovernmental Review
IV. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION
  Application Materials
  Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications
  Submission Instructions for Printed Applications
  Funding Restrictions
  Amendments
  Confidentiality
V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION
  Administrative Review
  Relevancy Review
  Ranking Criteria
  Past Performance Environmental Results Criteria
  Programmatic Criteria
  Technical Criteria
  Environmental Results Criteria
  Other Factors
  Review and Selection Process
  Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates
VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION
  Award Notices
  Administrative and National Policy Requirements
  Reporting
VII. AGENCY CONTACTS
VIII. OTHER INFORMATION
  Pre-proposal/Application Assistance and Communications
  Questions
  Data Access and Information Release
  Geospatial Information
  Animal and Human Subject Research
  DUNS Number

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

General Information
Announcement Type: Initial Announcement
Funding Instrument Type: CA
Funding Opportunity Number: EPA-ORD-TBN 25991
Posted Date: May 18, 2006

Original Due Date for Applications: To be considered timely, applications must be received by 5:00 p.m. local time in Duluth, Minnesota on July 25, 2006 from the U.S. Postal Service, other commercial delivery service, or via electronic transmission.

Current Due Date for Applications: To be considered timely, applications must be received by 5:00 p.m. local time in Duluth, Minnesota on July 25, 2006 from the U.S. Postal Service, other commercial delivery service, or via electronic transmission.

Category of Funding Activity: ENV, ST
Anticipated Number of Awards: 2
Anticipated Total Program Funding: $ 1,800,000
Award Ceiling: $ 900,000
Award Floor: $ 15,000
CFDA Number: 66.511 ORD Consolidated Research
Cost Sharing or Matching Requirement: None
Geospatial Information: It is anticipated that the agreement(s) that are awarded will involve or relate to geospatial 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. These programs are available to each State, territory and possession, and Tribal nation of the U.S., including the District of Columbia, for public and private State universities and colleges, hospitals, laboratories, State and local government departments, other public or private nonprofit institutions, and in some cases, individuals who have demonstrated unusually high scientific ability.

Federal Agency Name
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Mid-Continent Ecology Division, Attn: Craig L. Johnson, 6201 Congdon Blvd., Duluth, Minnesota 55804

Description
The purpose of the RFA funding opportunity is to develop training programs for postdoctoral scientists and graduate and undergraduate students in environmental research in cooperation with scientists of the Mid-Continent Ecology Division facilities in Duluth, MN and Grosse Ile, MI.

Application Materials
You may submit either a printed application or an electronic application (but not both) for this announcement. The printed application must be submitted to Craig L. Johnson, 6201 Congdon Boulevard, Duluth, Minnesota 55804 by the closing date and time. To apply electronically, the electronic application package available through the http://www.grants.gov/ exit EPA web site must be used. If your organization is not currently registered with Grants.gov, you need to allow one week or longer to complete the registration process. This registration, and electronic submission of your application, must be performed by an appropriate representative of your organization.

Contact Person(s)
Electronic Submissions Contact: Craig L. Johnson, phone: (218) 529-5016 email: johnson.craig@epa.gov

Link to Full Announcement
http://www.grants.gov/ exit EPA
http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/#2005epa

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

Background
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Mid-Continent Ecology Division (NHEERL-MED), maintains a major research program to study the effects of toxic chemicals and other stressors on aquatic species and on aquatic ecosystems.  The purpose of this research is to provide the scientific information, understanding, analyses and methods and protocols needed by states and local governments and various regulatory and management agencies to effectively protect aquatic species and aquatic ecosystems.

There is a national need to train scientists in environmental fields and to increase public understanding and knowledge in the area of pollution effects on and protection of aquatic organisms and ecosystems. NHEERL- MED seeks to establish long term Training Cooperative Partnerships with two eligible applicants capable of managing an environmental training program.   One cooperative agreement will be awarded to each of two eligible applicants or consortia of eligible applicants from this solicitation. One cooperative agreement would provide a training partnership with staff of the Duluth, MN facility and the other would provide a training partnership with staff of the Grosse Ile, MI facility.  The purpose of this cooperative agreement is to stimulate interest among students and postdoctoral scientists in careers involving environmental research and to provide hands-on experience.  It is envisioned that this training program will be modeled after the highly successful training arrangements which already exist at various US Universities and Colleges, with modifications to include active participation of EPA scientists as co-mentors with university scientists.

Types of Research Opportunities:
Research activities that offer training opportunities to undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral associates through this program are described below.

The Mid-Continent Ecology Division (MED) is one of four ecological effects divisions of the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory.  The four divisions are distributed bio-geographically.  MED's mission is:

  1. To provide EPA with national scientific leadership in ecotoxicology and freshwater ecology;
  2. To provide scientific information for use in assessing and forecasting the effects of pollutants and other stressors on our Nation's freshwater resources.

The Division addresses scientific issues of major importance in formulating public policies, programs, and regulations to protect and manage ecological resources. MED scientists conduct research in a range of scientific disciplines, usually working in multi-disciplinary teams. In addition to their work at the Division's facilities and field sites, they collaborate with leading scientists at research institutions throughout the world. The research addresses the modes of action of toxic chemicals and development of predictive models, understanding of effects of stressors on aquatic ecosystems, methods to assess ecosystem condition, and development of fate and effect models for large ecosystems. Priority is given to those ecological systems at greatest risk, with emphasis on the scientific uncertainties that most seriously impede ecological risk assessment.

The Division seeks to advance scientific understanding through:

  1. Fundamental research conducted in the laboratory and in specialized exposure chambers;
  2. Field studies;
  3. Modeling; and
  4. The analysis of large-scale environmental and ecological data sets.

Research Facilities:

MED research facilities are located in Duluth, MN and in Grosse Ile, MI. The main research facility, in Duluth, is located on 13 acres adjacent to Lake Superior, the source of water for its aquatic organism cultures and ecotoxicology facilities.  The Duluth facility comprises 107,000 sq. ft. of laboratories, offices, and research support and maintenance operations.  Laboratories and offices of the Large Lakes and Rivers Forecasting Research Branch are located in a 30,000 sq. ft. facility in Grosse Ile.  This facility also hosts EPA offices for the Superfund Program and Water and Enforcement staff from the Region Office in Chicago, IL.

MED maintains state-of-the-science laboratories and facilities.  The laboratories house advanced analytical capability for molecular, cellular, biochemical and inorganic chemical analyses of water, sediments and biological material.  Analytical capability includes stable isotope mass spectrometry, ICAP-MS, high resolution mass spectrometry, and confocal microscopy.  The culture facility supports research needs for invertebrates, fish and amphibians.  Laboratories are equipped for controlled exposures of cultures to a wide variety of chemicals and UV radiation.  The Division uses advanced computer technology (Metasys) to monitor research equipment, indoor air quality, water quality, pollution prevention equipment, utility consumption, and building security.  The Division supports Geographic Information Systems (GIS) capability and continues to upgrade its information/technology (IT) capability to meet the computer needs of laboratory and field research.  The Division has implemented a schedule of laboratory upgrades that has maintained the research facility in excellent condition.

In support of field research, the Division maintains a complement of research vessels, including the RV Tulibee and RV Prairie Sounder for research on the Great Lakes and Great Rivers.  The Division also maintains a number of smaller craft, providing capability for sampling coastal and inland wetlands.  Division scientists use these vessels to test advanced assessment technology, such as towed sensor and imaging arrays, and to test survey designs in the assessment research program.

The Grosse Ile facility supports advanced modeling capability, with advanced servers, processors, and modeling and data management capability.  This facility also supports the capability for precision analyses of mercury, other metals, and PCBs.

Training Program:

This program, to be known as the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory / Mid-Continent Ecology Division “Cooperative Training Partnership in Aquatic Toxicology and Ecosystem Research”, will be administered by an eligible applicant, but proposals will be considered from a consortium of departments and/or institutes of eligible applicants desiring to participate in the training objectives in this agreement. The Agreement will support research training of graduate and undergraduate students and postdoctoral researchers.  The training will be performed at the US EPA Environmental Health and Effects Research Laboratory, Mid-Continent Ecology Laboratory in Duluth, MN and in Grosse Ile, MI with senior EPA scientists either at the on-site NHEERL-MED laboratories in Duluth or in Grosse Ile, and/or field locations.

The program will provide assistance to students and postdoctoral scientists for the purpose of facilitating education and training in the environmental and ecological sciences; and provide research opportunities for Postdoctoral Research Associates, Graduate Research Assistants, and undergraduates.  There will be substantial Federal involvement in this project, i.e., senior scientists at the US EPA will participate, together with University faculty, in recruiting and serve as research mentors.

Funding Priorities/Focus:
The purpose of this Request for Applications (RFA) is to solicit proposals for a cooperative agreement between the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory/Mid-Continent Ecology Division (NHEERL-MED) of the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), and a University or College or consortium of university programs to train students and postdoctoral scientists in environmental sciences. Each agreement will be administered by an organization within the successful institution. The objectives are to administer and conduct the training of postdoctoral, graduate students, and undergraduate students in areas of environmental research with a focus on increasing public knowledge and training new scientists. The opportunity to gain research experience with senior scientists at one of the US EPA's premier environmental laboratories should enhance the effectiveness of students as they strive to become leaders within the scientific community.

The partnership between a successful institution and NHEERL-MED would be beneficial to the public in providing training for future scientists. Research experience with senior scientists at the NHEERL-MED could also provide another facet to aid University faculty to achieve opportunities for larger-scope research not normally available in a solely academic environment.

Under each of these cooperative agreements, students and postdoctoral scientists may have opportunities to obtain research experience in any of the following topics:

  1. Research on stressor response by aquatic and aquatic-dependent species, habitats, ecosystems and watersheds, including stressors such as nutrients, suspended and bedded sediments, toxic chemicals, and habitat degradation. (Goal 2 (Clean and Safe Water))
  2. Research on the toxic effects of bioaccumulative chemicals in complex mixtures and media, such as contaminated sediments in Superfund sites. (Goal 3 (Land Preservation and Restoration))
  3. Research on effects of toxic chemicals on aquatic life at various levels of organization, including molecular, cellular, organ, physiology, reproduction, whole organism growth, and population effects. (Goal 4 (Healthy Communities and Ecosystems))
  4. Research on designs, approaches and indicators for aquatic ecosystem assessment, including large aquatic systems such as the Great Lakes and Great Rivers. (Goal 4 (Healthy Communities and Ecosystems)
  5. Development and testing of models of fate and effects of chemicals and other stressors (such as invasive species) in large aquatic ecosystems. (Goal 4 (Healthy Communities and Ecosystems)

Environmental Results
This RFA seeks applications that will advance the following Government Performance Results Act (GPRA) goals/objectives as identified in EPA's Strategic Plan (http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/plan/2003sp.pdf) (PDF, 239pp., 4.75MB, about PDF):

Goal 2 (Clean and Safe Water)
Objective 2.3 (Enhance Science and Research)
Sub objective 2.3.2 (Conduct Leading-edge Research)

Goal 3 (Land Preservation and Restoration)
Objective 3.3 (Enhance Science and Research)
Sub objective 3.3.2 (Conduct Research to Support Land Activities)

Goal 4 (Healthy Communities and Ecosystems)
Objective 4.5 (Enhance Science and Research)
Sub objective 4.5.2 (Conduct Relevant Research)

Outputs:

The measurable outputs of this Cooperative agreement will be:

  1. Research Results in the form of reports, presentations at scientific meetings, journal publications and/or books which demonstrate participation in and understanding of methods, approaches, designs and tools for meeting research needs under EPA's Strategic Goals 2, 3, and 4.
  2. The completion of graduate theses or dissertations which fulfill requirements for advanced degrees in Environmental Research Fields.
  3. Demonstrated experience of trainees in EPA's environmental science and research through attendance and participation in team research planning meetings, contributions of research findings, and participation in laboratory and field activities.

Outcomes:

By participating in leading edge research with EPA scientists, trainees, as current and future environmental professionals, will have enhanced knowledge and a strengthened scientific foundation to better contribute to meeting our nation's goals in terms of protecting water quality (Goal 2), protecting and restoring land (Goal 3), and protecting, sustaining and restoring the health of people, communities and ecosystems (Goal 4).

Statutory Authority for Award of Assistance
Clean Air Act, Sections 103 and 104, as amended, Public Law 95-95, 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.; Clean Water Act, Section 104, as amended, Public Law 95-217, 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.; Solid Waste Disposal Act, Section 8001, as amended; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976, as amended, Public Law 94-580, 42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.; Safe Drinking Water Act, Section 1442, as amended, Public Law 93- 523; Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, Public Law 92-516, Section 20, as amended; Public Laws 94-140 and 95-396, 7 U.S.C. 136 et seq.; Toxic Substances Control Act, Section 10, as amended, Public Law 94-469, 15 U.S.C. 2601 et seq.; Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), Section 311, Public Law 95-510, as amended, Public Law 99-499; Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act, Section 203.

II. AWARD INFORMATION

Anticipated Total Dollar Amount Available: $1,800,000

Anticipated Amount and Range of Individual Award: up to $900,000 (range $15,000 - $900,000 - each)

Anticipated Number of Awards: Two

Anticipated Award Date: November 15, 2006

Funding: The EPA is expected to fund each award over a period of 3 years. Funding of the first year of the two awards is expected to be up to $350,000. Additional funding of up to $350,000 during the second year and $200k during the third and final year will be contingent upon availability of funds and satisfactory progress by the selected recipient. Awards may be made in full or in increments at the discretion of EPA and is dependent on the timing and amount of future EPA appropriations and allocations to this cooperative training agreement.

Project Period: November 15, 2006 - November 14, 2009

Supplemental Applications: Applications for supplemental awards of existing EPA assistance agreements will not be eligible to compete for this assistance opportunity.

Type of Award: The Agency anticipates the award of two cooperative agreements

Anticipated Federal Involvement:

EPA and the Project Officer for this assistance agreement anticipate substantial involvement in the implementation of the training as follows:

  1. Senior scientists at the EPA Mid-Continent Ecology Division, in partnership with University faculty, will serve as research mentors for the students and postdoctoral scientists. EPA researchers will partner with the successful university in recruiting high quality student and postdoctoral candidates who meet the academic standards of the university.
  2. Coordinate extramural student activities with relevant in-house research activities.
  3. EPA research mentors will participate with university faculty mentors with students and postdoctoral scientists in development and preparation of journal articles and other products from these research activities.
  4. EPA scientists will provide technical input on a regular basis through scheduled meetings and monthly conference calls to provide expertise to experimental designs and theoretical and model development.
  5. Collaborate with the university project team to identify milestones and discuss progress.

III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

Eligible Applicants
For certain competitive funding opportunities under this CFDA program description, the Agency may limit eligibility to compete to a number or subset of eligible applicants consistent with the Agency's Assistance Agreement Competition Policy. Institutions of higher education and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S.; and Tribal, state and local governments are eligible to apply.

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

Other Eligibility Criteria
Administrative Eligibility Criteria: 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 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.

Relevance Eligibility Criteria: Proposals that are found administratively acceptable will be subjected to a review for relevancy to EPA's mission to support advancement of training environmental scientists and increase the publics' knowledge in environmental science. Proposals will be rejected if they are found to lack relevance. Examples of proposals that lack relevance include:

  1. Proposal is deficient technically with no chance of consideration.
  2. Proposal fails to advance the objectives stated in the solicitation even if successfully performed.
  3. Proposal fails to demonstrate a public purpose of support and stimulation; i.e. it implies the primary purpose is to provide direct support to the Federal government.

Rejection Factors: Applications may be rejected because they fail to comply with the administrative requirements of the RFA, they are found to lack relevancy, they are judged technically and/or programmatically unacceptable, or they are not deemed suitable for award due to other factors (if identified). EPA reserves the right to reject any or all proposals or applications and make no awards.

Sub agreement Eligibility Criteria: Groups of two or more eligible applicants may choose to form a coalition and submit a single application for this assistance agreement. Consortiums must identify which eligible organization will be the recipient of the assistance agreement, and which eligible organization(s) will be sub awardees of the recipient. Sub awards must be consistent with the definition of that term in 40 CFR 30.2(ff). The recipient must administer the assistance agreement, is accountable to EPA for proper expenditure of the funds, and will be the point of contact for the consortiums. As provided in 40 CFR 30.2(gag), sub recipients are accountable to the recipient for proper use of EPA funding.

Consortiums may not include for profit organizations that will provide services or products to the successful applicant. For profit organizations are not eligible for sub awards. Any contracts for services or products funded with EPA financial assistance must be awarded under the competitive procurement procedures of 40 CFR Part 30. The regulations also contain limitations on consultant compensation. Applications are not required to identify contractors or consultants in the proposal. Moreover, the fact a successful applicant has named a specific contractor or consultant in the proposal EPA approves does not relieve it of its obligations to comply with competitive procurement requirements or consultant compensation limitations.

Intergovernmental Review
This assistance opportunity is subject to Executive Order 12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." Applicants should contact their State's Single Point of Contact (SPOC) to find out how to comply with the State's process. The names and addresses of the SPOC's are listed in the Office of Management and Budget's home page at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants/spoc.html exit EPA.

IV. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

Applicants must submit a full, detailed application to include all of the documents described in Section A below. Applications that do not substantially comply will be rejected. Applicants should submit adequate information addressing each of the ranking criteria in Section V. Additional guidance on completing the documents is available at EPA's Office of Grants and Debarment (http://www.epa.gov/ogd/). Applicants may submit either a printed application or an electronic application through www.grants.gov exit EPA for this announcement. Applications may not be submitted via email or by fax. Applications submitted by email or fax will not be considered for selection. Instructions for both forms of submission follow.

Application Materials
The application is made through submission of the materials described below for both electronic and printed applications. The application must contain the following items:

  1. Application For Federal Assistance (SF-424). This form will be the first page of the application. Instructions for completion of the SF-424 are included with the form. Complete the form. There are no attachments. The form must contain the original signature of an authorized representative of the applying institution. Please note that both the Principal Investigator and an administrative contact are to be identified in Section 5 of the SF424. Please be sure to include organization fax number and email address in Block 5 of the Standard Form SF 424. Please note that the organizational Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number must be included on the SF-424. Organizations may obtain a DUNS number at no cost by calling the toll-free DUNS number request line at 1-866-705-5711.
  2. Budget Information for Non-Construction Programs (SF-424A). Complete the form. There are no attachments. The total amount of federal funding requested for the project period should be shown on line 5(e) and on line 6(k) of SF-424A. If indirect costs are included, the amount of indirect costs should be entered on line 6(j). The indirect cost rate (i.e., a percentage), the base (e.g., personnel costs and fringe benefits), and the amount should also be indicated on line 22. Budget information must be broken down by each year of the project.
  3. SF-424B, Assurances for Non Construction Programs. Complete the form.
          There are no attachments.
  4. Grants. Gov Lobbying Form-Certificate Regarding Lobbying. Complete the form
          There are no attachments.
  5. EPA Form 5700-54, Key Contacts Form should include the Principal, Co Investigators, and administrative contacts. A copy of this form should also be completed for major sub-agreements (contacts at the institutions of primary co-investigators).
  6. EPA Form 4700-4, Pre-Award Compliance Review Report. Complete the form.
          There are no attachments.
  7. Project Narrative and Supporting Documentation.

    The Project Narrative is the technical proposal that discusses the technical approach and organizational capabilities for accomplishing the goals stated under the Funding Priorities/Focus in Section I. It describes the objective of the proposed project and its link to EPA's strategic plan. Pages should be consecutively numbered on 8.5X11-inch pages. Narratives shall include all supportive text, tables, figures, and references. Brevity is encouraged and expected. The document should be readable in PDF, MS Word or Word Perfect WP6/7/8 for Windows and consolidated into a single file. The project narrative shall contain the following sections and information:

    1. Title Page. Include the title of the proposed project, the organization submitting the proposal, the principal investigator(s) with address, phone number and email address and other contact information if different than the PI.
    2. Table of Content.
    3. Background.
    4. Approach.
    5. Schedule, Milestones, Products and Final Reports. Break down training activities and deliverables for each year of anticipated funding.
    6. Personnel Qualifications, Project Management Structure, Personnel Time Commitments, and Personnel Responsibilities. Identify roles and responsibilities of personnel and expertise for the research to be undertaken. Include citations of relevant manuscripts, reports, etc. produced by the proposed key personnel under other similar projects that would demonstrate their expertise, experience and knowledge of the proposed research. Include partners and collaborators.
    7. Plan for tracking and measuring progress toward achieving the expected outputs and outcomes identified in Section I of the announcement. See EPA order 5700.7 (http://www.epa.gov/ogd/grants/award/5700.7.pdf) (PDF, 29pp., 180KB, about PDF).
    8. List documenting Environmental Results Past Performance. Submit a list of all EPA and other Federal agency assistance agreements that your organization performed in the last three years, and describe how you documented and/or reported on whether you were making progress towards achieving the expected results (e.g., outputs and outcomes) under those agreements. If you were not making progress, please indicate whether, and how, you documented why not.
    9. List documenting Programmatic Capability. Submit a list of all federally-funded agreements similar in size, scope and relevance to the proposed project that your organization performed within the last three years and describe how you were (1) technically able to successfully carry out and manage those agreements and (2) your history of meeting the reporting requirements under those agreements including submitting acceptable final technical reports. In evaluating applicants, under this factor in Section V, EPA will consider the information provided by the applicant and may also consider relevant information provided by the applicant and may also consider relevant information from other sources, including information from EPA files and from current and prior Federal agency grantors. In addition, provide information on your organizational experience and plan for timely and successfully achieving the objectives of the proposed project and your staff expertise/qualifications, staff knowledge, and resources or the ability to obtain them, to successfully achieve the goals of the proposed project.
    10. Biographical Sketches. A curriculum vitae should be included for the Principal Investigator and any other key personnel identified in the proposal.
    11. References.
    12. Appendices.
  8. A Budget Narrative which includes detailed, itemized budget estimates for the project and is broken down into direct labor, fringe benefits, contractual and sub- agreement costs, equipment, travel, other direct costs and overhead with summaries for each year and the total for the entire project. If a sub-agreement is included in the application, provide a separate budget for the sub-agreement in the same format if the sub-agreement is greater than $25,000.

    If amounts are budgeted for subcontracts, provide a description of the work that will be subcontracted and an explanation of why it must be subcontracted. Indicate whether the subcontracts will be awarded competitively or if not, what justification exists to make a non-competitive award. Any budget that includes amounts for subcontracts of 40% or more of the total direct costs will be subject to special review. Refer to Section III, Sub-agreement Eligibility Criteria, for a further discussion of proposed subcontracts.

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

    Describe the basis for calculating the personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, and other costs identified in the itemized budget and explain the basis for their calculation. (Special attention should be given to explaining the "travel," "equipment," and "other" categories.). For any proposed equipment, identify any tangible non-expendable personal property to be purchased which has an estimated cost of $5,000 or more per unit and a useful life of more than one year. (Personal property items with a unit cost of less than $5,000 are considered supplies.)

  9. SF-LLL, Disclosure of Lobbying Activities (required if your organization is involved in lobbying). Complete the form if your organization is involved in lobbying activities.
  10. Other Attachments Form- Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (if indirect costs are included in the project budget). Use the "Other Attachments Form" in the "Optional Documents" box to attach a copy of your organization's Indirect Cost Rate Agreement, if applicable. (See Application Preparation and Submission Instructions below for more details.) You must submit a copy of your organization's Indirect Cost Rate Agreement as part of the application package if your proposed budget includes indirect costs.

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 Pure Edge 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 66.511 or Funding Opportunity Number EPA/ORD/NHEERL/MED- EPA-ORD-TBN 25991. It is recommended that you "Register to Receive Notification" of announcement updates.

The electronic submission of your application must be made by an official representative of your institution who is registered with Grants.gov. For more information, go to http://www.grants.gov exit EPA and click on "Get Started," and then "For AORs" (Authorized Organization Representative) on the left side of the page. Note that the registration process may take a week or longer to complete. If your organization is not currently registered with Grants.gov exit EPA, please encourage your office to designate an AOR and ask that individual to begin the registration process as soon as possible.

To begin the application process for this grant opportunity, go to http://www.grants.gov exit EPA and click on "Apply for Grants." Then click on "Apply Step 1: Download a Grant Application Package and Application Instructions" to download the PureEdge viewer and obtain the application package (https://apply.grants.gov/forms_apps_idx.html exit EPA). You may retrieve the application package by entering the Funding Opportunity Number, EPA-ORD-TBM 25991, or the appropriate CFDA number, in the space provided. Then complete and submit the application package as indicated. You may also be able to access the application package by clicking on the button "How To Apply" at the top right of the synopsis page for this announcement on http://www.grants.gov exit EPA (to find the synopsis page go to http://www.grants.gov exit EPA and click on the "Find Grant Opportunities" button on the top of the page and then to go EPA opportunities).

The complete application must be transferred to EPA through Grants.gov by your organization's AOR no later than 6:00 pm Eastern Time on August 1, 2006. Electronic applications will be date/timed stamped electronically. An e-mail will be sent by NHEERL to the Principal Investigator and the Administrative Contact to acknowledge receipt of the application and to transmit other important information. If an email acknowledgment from NHEERL (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 1 through 10 listed under Application Materials in Section IV.A of this announcement should appear in the "mandatory Documents" box on the grants.gov Grant Application Package page.

For documents 1-6, click on the appropriate form and then click "Open Form" below the box. The fields that must be completed will be highlighted in yellow. Optional fields and completed fields will be displayed in white. If you enter an invalid response or incomplete information in a field, you will receive an error message. When you have finished filling out each form, click "Save". When you return to the electronic Grant Application Package page, click on the form you just completed, and then click on the box that says, "Move Form to Submission List". This action will move the document over to the box that says, "Mandatory Completed Documents for Submission."

For documents 7 and 8, you will need to attach electronic files. Prepare each of the documents as described in items III.1 through III.7 of Section IV.A and save the documents to your computer as an MS Word, PDF or WordPerfect file. When you are ready to attach your proposal to the application package, click on "Project Narrative Attachment Form", and open the form. Click "Add Mandatory Project Narrative File", and then attach your proposal (previously saved to your computer) using the browse window that appears. You may then click "View Mandatory Project Narrative File" to view it. Enter a brief descriptive title of your project in the space beside "Mandatory Project Narrative File Filename," the filename should be no more than 40 characters long. If there are other attachments that you would like to submit to accompany your proposal, you may click "Add Optional Project Narrative File" and proceed as before. When you have finished attaching the necessary documents, click "Close Form". When your return to the "Grant Application Package" page, select "Project Narrative Attachment Form" and click "Move Form to Submission List". The form should now appear in the box that says, "Mandatory Completed Documents for Submission".

Documents 9 and 10 are listed in the "Optional Documents" box, but please note that these so-called "optional" documents must also be submitted as part of the application package, if applicable to your organization. You are only required to submit document 9 - SF-LLL, Disclosure of Lobbying Activities - if your organization is involved in lobbying activities. You are required to submit document 10 - Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement - if you have included any indirect costs in your proposed budget. To attach document 10, use the "Other Attachments Form" in the "Optional Documents" box. After attaching the document, please remember to highlight the "Other Attachments Form" and click "Move Form to Submission List" in order to move the documents to the box that says, "Optional Completed Documents for Submission"

Once you have finished filling out all of the forms/attachments and they appear in one of the "Completed Documents for Submission" boxes, click the "Save" button that appears at the top of the Web page. It is suggested that you save the document a second time, using a different name, since this will make it easier to submit an amended package later if necessary. Please use the following format when saving your file: "Applicant Name - FY 06 (grant category; e.g., Assoc Prog Supp) - 1st Submission" or "Applicant Name - FY 06 (grant category) - Back-up Submission." If it becomes necessary to submit an amended package at a later date, then the name of the 2nd submission should be changed to "Applicant Name - FY 06 (grant category) - 2nd Submission."

Once your application package has been completed and saved, send it to your AOR for submission to the U.S. EPA through Grants.gov exit EPA. Please advise your AOR to close all other software programs before attempting to submit the application package through Grants.gov exit EPA.

In the "Application Filing Name" box, your AOR should enter your organization's name (abbreviate where possible), the fiscal year (e.g., FY06), and the grant category (e.g., Assoc Prog Supp). The filing name should not exceed 40 characters. From the "Grant Application Package" page, your AOR may submit the application package by clicking the "Submit" button that appears at the top of the page. The AOR will then be asked to verify the agency and funding opportunity number for which the application package is being submitted. If problems are encountered during the submission process, the AOR should reboot his/her computer before trying to submit the application package again. [It may be necessary to turn off the computer (not just restart it) before attempting to submit the package again.] If the AOR continues to experience submission problems, he/she should contact grants.gov exit EPA for assistance (Phone: 1-800-518-4726, Email: support@grants.gov exit EPA). If submission problems are not quickly resolved, contact the NHEERL electronic submission support person, Craig Johnson (218) 529-5016 or johnson.craig@epa.gov.

Submission Instructions for Printed Applications
Submit a complete application including all of the documents identified in Section IV.A. of this announcement. If the application is not submitted electronically through grants.gov, it must be sent through regular mail, express mail, or a major courier to: Craig Johnson, U.S. EPA, MED, 6201 Congdon Blvd. Duluth, MN 55804. Do not email or Fax the application. Electronic copies must be made available upon request.

Because of security concerns, applications cannot be personally delivered. To be considered timely, printed applications must be received by 5:00 p.m. local time in Duluth, MN, on July 25, 2006 from the U.S. Postal Service or a major courier. If you are sending a printed application, please request a delivery receipt from the Post Office or delivery service. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered and will be returned to the submitter. Printed applications, including all documents stated in Section IV.A. must be submitted in the original with 3 copies and should be double-sided. Grant application forms can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ogd/AppKit/application.htm

Funding Restrictions
Annual increments of awards will be made by request to EPA. Funding will be contingent upon availability of funds and satisfactory performance during the first year.

Amendments
Amendments will be posted on this website and the due date for applications will be extended if deemed appropriate.

Confidentiality
In accordance with 40 CFR 2.203, applicants may claim all or a portion of the application/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.

V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION

Administrative Review
All applications will be subject to Administrative Review to insure that all packages meet the requirements of this RFA. Proposals that do not meet the eligibility and threshold requirements stated in Section III, substantially comply with the application submission instructions and requirements set forth in Section IV, or submit applications on or before the closing date published in Section IV of this announcement will be rejected. Rejected applications will be returned to the sender without further consideration.

Relevancy Review
Proposals that are found administratively acceptable will be reviewed by ORD for relevancy to EPA's mission to support advancement of environmental science. Proposals will be rejected if they are found to lack relevance. Examples of proposals that lack relevance include:

  1. Proposal is deficient technically with no chance for consideration.
  2. Proposal fails to advance the objectives stated in the solicitation even if successfully performed.
  3. Proposal fails to demonstrate a public purpose of support and stimulation; i.e., it implies the primary purpose is to provide direct support to the Federal government.

Ranking Criteria
Proposals that are found administratively acceptable and relevant will undergo EPA peer review as required of assistance agreements. The project officer will arrange for expert peer review by one internal and two external peer reviewers who have no conflict of interest with the applicants will review and rank proposals based on the following criteria:

Past Performance Environmental Results Criteria
Extent and quality to which the applicant adequately documented and/or reported on its past progress towards achieving the expected results (i.e. Outcomes and outputs) under EPA and other Federal agency assistance agreements performed within the last 3 years, and if such progress was not being made whether or not the applicant adequately documented and/or reported why not. (Organizations that have no relevant past performance will be given a neutral rating. The Agency may contact the sponsor to corroborate information and may review other data.) (5%)

Programmatic Criteria
Extent to which the applicant demonstrates the technical ability to successfully carry out the proposed project based on: 1) past performance (last 3 years) in successfully completing and managing federally funded agreements of similar size, scope, and relevance to the proposed pro, its history of meeting reporting requirements under federally funded agreements of similar size, scope, and relevance to the proposed project and submitting acceptable final technical reports under these agreements; 2) organizational experience and plan for timely and successfully achieving the objectives of the proposed project; And, 3) its staff expertise/qualifications, staff knowledge and resources or the ability to obtain them in order to successfully achieve the goals of the proposed project. (Organizations that have no relevant past performance will be given a neutral rating. The Agency may contact the sponsor to corroborate the information and may review other data (e.g., the EPA's Grantee Compliance Assistance Initiative database.) (15%)

Technical Criteria

  1. Proposed approach for partnership with the Mid-Continent Ecology division on collaborative training of students (postdoctoral, graduate, undergraduate) (15%)
  2. Proposed approach for recruiting students and postdoctoral scientists of high quality and ability (15%)
  3. Proposed approach for development model student programs to balance on-campus coursework and other activities while leaving sufficient research time (5%)
  4. Scientific and educational merit, innovation, and relevance to the research training mechanism proposed (35%)
  5. Institutional capability: Experience and understanding of the management needs for this program, including recruiting students, placement into the program, student progress review, and cost-effectiveness of the budget structure (5%)

Environmental Results Criteria
Extent to which the applicant adequately defines a plan for tracking and measuring progress toward achieving the expected environmental outputs/outcomes (5%)

Each reviewer will separately score each proposal based on the extent (relevant to maximum points assigned to each criterion) to which each of the above programmatic and technical criterion are met. Reviewers will provide narrative justification for each score. The total maximum obtainable score for any one proposal would be 100%.

Other Factors
When two or more of the highly rated proposals receive equivalent rankings, the respective budgets will be evaluated for cost reasonableness and cost realism in order to determine which applicant will be selected for funding recommendation. The proposal that is determined to be the most reasonable/realistic will be selected. The amount of cost sharing proposed (if any) will not result in additional points for any applicant, but will be considered in the evaluation of the reasonableness and realism of the overall budget.

Review and Selection Process
Source Selection: U.S. EPA will summarize reviews of their proposals. This will include averaging the scores of each proposal reviewed and providing comment on each ranking criteria factor. All reviews will then be forwarded to MED. The Decision Official will make selections of the applicants for award based upon the rankings of the technical peer review panel. The Decision Official is an Office of Research and Development (ORD) manager who will determine which applications should receive the award based on the technical panel recommendation and other factors discussed above.

Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates
Award dates will vary and are dependent on expediency of negotiated work plans and peer review reconciliations (see Section VI). Applicants must provide ORD project officers with completed reconciliations by September 25, 2006 in order to ensure timely processing of the funding package to GAD. Failure to do so may result in loss of available funds. It is expected that awards will be made by GAD no later than November 15, 2006.

VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

Award Notices
Notice of award will be made in writing by an official in the EPA Grants Administration Division. Preliminary recommendation by the Decision Official in the Office of Research and Development does not guarantee an award will be made. Applicants are cautioned that only a grants officer can bind the Government to the expenditure of funds. No commitment on the part of EPA should be inferred from technical or budgetary discussions with an EPA Program Official. A Principal Investigator or organization that makes financial or personnel commitments in the absence of a grant or cooperative agreement signed by the EPA Grants Award Official does so at their own risk.

EPA will promptly notify in writing (postal or email) those applicants whose application is rejected. An unsuccessful applicant may request a debriefing to better understand the evaluated strengths and weaknesses of its proposal and the reason for rejection if other than technical merit.

Administrative and National Policy Requirements
Regulations and OMB Coverage: Grants and agreements with institutions of higher education, hospitals, and other non-profit organizations are subject to 40 CFR Parts 30 and 40 and OMB Circular A-122 for non-profits and A-21 for institutions of higher learning.

Grants and agreements with state, local, and tribal governments are subject to 40 CFR Parts 31 and 40 and OMB Circular A-87.

Nonprofit applicants that are recommended for funding will be subject to pre-award administrative capability reviews consistent with Sections 8.b, 8.c, and 9.d of EPA Order 5700.8.

Programmatic Terms and Conditions: Terms and conditions will be negotiated with the selected recipient covering the following requirements:

It is required that projects be performed by qualified personnel. All proposals must identify persons who will assist in carrying out the project.

The authorized representative of the recipient whose proposal is selected for an award is responsible for accepting the cooperative agreement from EPA and ensuring that all cooperative agreement conditions are satisfied.

Recipients are responsible for the successful completion of the project and for complying with all reporting requirements of the cooperative agreement.

Award recipients may begin incurring allowable costs on the start date identified in the EPA cooperative agreement. Pre-award costs are allowable 90 days prior to award. However, the applicant does so at his/her own risk. Activities must be completed and funds spent within the time frames specified in the award agreement. EPA funds may be used only for the purposes set forth in the cooperative agreement and must conform to Federal cost principles contained in OMB Circular ABB87; ABB122; and ABB21, as appropriate. Ineligible costs will be reduced from the final cooperative agreement award.

Work plans and resultant work generated under this solicitation must comply with all EPA quality assurance requirements. If a QAPP is not submitted with the application package, it must be identified as a deliverable in the Project Narrative (under Schedule, Milestones, Products, and Final Reports) and it will be listed in the terms and conditions of the Assistance Agreement. The QAPP documents the procedures necessary to assure that the project will result in high quality data. It includes, but is not limited to, sample tracking/custody procedures, Internal quality control checks and frequency, performance and systems audit procedures and frequency, preventative maintenance schedules and procedures, procedures for corrective actions, and specific procedures for assessing precision, accuracy, and completeness of data. A Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) is required for all monitoring projects and must be approved prior to the collection or use of environmental data (EPA Order 5360.1A2). Instructions for preparing a QAPP can be found in EPA QA/G-5, Guidance for Quality Assurance Project Plans, available at (http://www.epa.gov/quality/qs-docs/g5-final.pdf) (PDF, 111pp., 401KB, about PDF). An acceptable QAPP shall be due within 45 days following acceptance of the award and prior to any data collection.

Award recipients must agree to make methods, models, and data resulting from this agreement accessible to the public and to EPA.

Collaboration between EPA and the recipient is allowable. The nature and extent of any collaboration will be identified in the terms and conditions of the agreement.

Disputes: Assistance agreement competition-related disputes will be resolved in accordance with the dispute resolution procedures published in 70 FR (Federal Register) 3629, 3630 (January 26, 2005) which can be found at: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20051800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2005/05-1371.htm exit EPA. Copies of these procedures may also be requested through the contacts listed in Section VII. Disputes relating to matters other than competitive selection of recipients will be resolved under 40 CFR 30.63 or 40 CFR 31.70, as applicable.

Reporting
The frequency and content of project reports will be negotiated with the applicant and will be specified in the terms and conditions of the Assistance Agreement. In general, there will be 3 types of reporting for awarded projects:

Progress Reports: The selected recipient will be required to submit progress reports at least annually, but some Project Officers may require quarterly reports, with the first report due (90) days after the cooperative agreement is awarded to the recipient.

Performance Reports: In accordance with 40 CFR 30.51 and 31.40, recipients agree to submit performance reports with brief information on 1). A comparison of actual accomplishments with the anticipated outputs/outcomes specified in the assistance agreement work plan; 2) reasons why anticipated outputs/outcomes were not met; and 3) other pertinent information, including, when appropriate, analysis and explanation of cost overruns ore high unit costs.. The recipient also agrees that it will notify EPA or problems, delays, or adverse conditions which materially impair the ability to meet the outputs/outcomes specified in the assistance agreement work plan.

Final Report: The selected recipient will be required to submit a final report within 90 calendar days of the completion of the period of performance.

VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

The primary agency contact for this RFA is Craig Johnson at:
U. S. EPA, MED, 6201 Congdon Blvd., Duluth, MN 55804
Telephone: (218) 529-5016
Fax: (218) 529-5003
E-mail: Johnson.craig@epa.gov

VIII. OTHER INFORMATION

Pre-proposal/Application Assistance and Communications
In accordance with EPA's Assistance Agreement Competition Policy (EPA Order 5700.5A1), EPA staff will not meet with individual applicants to discuss draft proposals, provide informal comments on draft proposals, or provide advice to applicants on how to respond to ranking criteria. Applicants are responsible for the contents of their applications/proposals. However, EPA will respond to questions in writing from individual applicants regarding threshold eligibility criteria, administrative issues related to the submission of the proposal, and requests for clarification about the announcement.

Questions
Questions should be submitted in writing by June 26, 2006. Do not attempt to seek information regarding this RFA from any source other than those identified in Section VII as the information provided may be erroneous. Questions that identify erroneous information or information in the RFA that needs clarification for all potential applicants will be answered via an amendment to this RFA which will be posted on www.grants.gov exit EPA.

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

Geospatial Information
It is anticipated that the agreement that is awarded will involve or relate to geospatial information. In compliance with Executive Order 12906, REMAP data is made available for use throughout all levels of government, the private and non-profit sectors, and the academic community. The goal of this infrastructure is to reduce duplication of effort among agencies, improve quality and reduce costs related to geographic information, to make geographic data more accessible to the public, to increase the benefits of using available data, and to establish key partnerships with states, counties, cities, tribal nations, academia and the private sector to increase data availability. Further information regarding geospatial information may be obtained by viewing the following website: http://www.fgdc.gov/nsdi/nsdi.html exit EPA.

Animal and Human Subject Research
Research projects that involve animals will be subject to the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 (P.L. 89-544), as amended, 7 U.S.C. 2131-2156. Recipients agree to abide by the "U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals used in Testing, Research, and Training". (Federal Register 50(97): 20864-20865. May 20, 1985). The nine principles can be viewed at: http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/pubs/IACUC/vert.htm exit EPA. For additional information about the principles, the recipient should consult the Guide for Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, prepared by the Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources, National Research Council and can be accessed at: http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/labrats/ exit EPA. Vertebrate animals include cold-blood organisms such as fish and amphibians. Recipients who propose to conduct research on human subjects must agree to meet all of the EPA requirements under 40 CFR 26, referred to as the "Common Rule". If the proposed project involves human or animal testing studies, including field collections, please indicate it on a separate sheet of paper.

DUNS Number
Grant applicants are required to provide a Dun and Bradstreet (D&B), Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number when applying for Federal grants or cooperative agreements. OMB has determined that there is a need for improved statistical reporting of Federal grants and cooperative agreements. Use of the DUNS number government-wide will provide a means to identify entities receiving those awards and their business relationships. The identifier will be used for tracking purposes, and to validate address and point of contact information.

A DUNS number will be required whether an applicant is submitting a printed application or using the government-wide electronic portal (Grants.gov exit EPA). The DUNS number will supplement other identifiers required by statute or regulation, such as tax identification numbers. Organizations can receive a DUNS number in one day, at no cost, by calling the dedicated toll-free DUNS Number request line at 1-866-705-5711. Individuals who would personally receive a grant or cooperative agreement award from the Federal government apart from any business or non-profit organization they may operate are exempt from this requirement. The website where an organization can obtain a DUNS number is: http://www.dnb.com exit EPA. This takes 30 business days and there is no cost unless the organization requests expedited (1-day) processing, which includes a fee of $40.

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