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

CLOSED - FOR REFERENCES PURPOSES ONLY

Market Mechanisms and Incentives: Case Studies and Experimental Testbeds for New Environmental Trading Programs

This is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity.

Funding Opportunity Number: Part 1-Case Studies (EPA-G2006-STAR-P1)
  Part 2-Experimental Testbeds (EPA-G2006-STAR-P2)

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 66.509

Solicitation Opening Date: June 30, 2006
Solicitation Closing Date: September 27, 2006, 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
A. Introduction
B. Background
C. Authority and Regulations
D. Specific Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes
E. References
F. Special Requirements
II. AWARD INFORMATION
III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION
A. Eligible Applicants
B. Cost Sharing
C. Other
IV. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION
A. Internet Address to Request Application Package
B. Content and Form of Application Submission
C. Submission Dates and Times
D. Funding Restrictions
E. Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements
V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION
A. Criteria
B. Review and Selection Process
VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION
A. Award Notices
B. Disputes
C. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

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

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

Synopsis of Program
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, is seeking applications proposing research to increase the scientific understanding of the causes for success or failure of trading programs for new pollutants, media, and geographical areas as well as the costs and benefits of such programs. This research should develop methods, models, or tools to translate the success of the SO2 and similar trading markets to new markets where trading has been (or may be) less successful. There are two parts to this RFA: Part 1 - Case Studies and Part 2 - Experimental Testbeds. The methods used in these two parts differ but the scope of research is identical across both parts.

Award Information:
Anticipated Type of Award: Grant or cooperative agreement
Estimated Number of Awards: Part 1: Approximately 5 awards; Part 2: Approximately 1 award
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $2 million total for all awards
Potential Funding per Grant: Part 1: Up to $125,000/year with a duration of 1 or 1.5 years and no more than a total of $200,000 per award, including direct and indirect costs. Part 2: 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:
Public nonprofit institutions/organizations (includes public institutions of higher education and hospitals) and private nonprofit institutions/organizations (includes private institutions of higher education and hospitals) located in the U.S.; state and local governments; Federally Recognized Indian Tribal Governments; and U.S. territories or possessions 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 and formats for submitting a STAR application will be found on the National Center for Environmental Research (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" in Section IV). 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 authorized representative of your organization.

Contact Persons:
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)

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

A. Introduction
Market approaches to environmental management have been suggested by economists for decades and have the potential to increase the efficiency of environmental policy considerably by reducing compliance costs for regulated entities and individuals and/or achieving otherwise uneconomical pollution reduction. The success of the sulfur dioxide trading market has led to the creation of (or proposals for the creation of) trading markets for other pollutants, especially at the regional, state, and smaller (e.g. watershed) scales.

However, many desired environmental trading markets have not succeeded or even been established due to difficulties in establishing trading rules, monitoring, or enforcement. Establishing a trading market that fails is a costly enterprise. This RFA will fund research in two areas to increase the understanding of trading programs for new pollutants, media, and geographical areas. These research results will assist policymakers at all levels to better understand how to design effective trading programs and realize the potential costs savings associated with these approaches.

The first area of research (Part 1) uses case studies to examine the reasons for the success or failure of trading programs, to measure the benefits of trading programs in comparison to more traditional regulation, and to identify lessons for future trading programs. Well-designed case studies can provide a wealth of information about why a specific trading program succeeds or fails and what the relative benefits of the program are (e.g. Hoag and Hughes-Popp 1997; Fang et al. 2005). Insights gleaned from these case studies will complement EPA's research program on trading.

The second area of research (Part 2) uses experimental testbeds to compare alternative market designs, monitoring approaches, and enforcement regimes prior to instituting markets in the field. Plott (1997) defines a testbed as

"a simple working prototype of a process that is going to be employed in a complex environment. The creation of the prototype and the study of its operation provides a joining of theory, observation, and the practical aspects of implementation."

The purpose of the testbed (in the case of market mechanisms) is to see if a mechanism works and if it works as predicted by theory. Shogren (2004) compares testbeds to wind tunnels. Economists have long used experimental testbeds to verify theoretical predictions regarding the performance of various mechanisms before implementing those mechanisms as policies (Samuelson 2004). Several notable examples are mechanisms to allocate airport time slots (Rassenti et al. 1982), coordinate and price Space Shuttle payloads (Banks et al. 1989), and to auction mobile phone licenses (Binmore and Klemperer 2002). Economists (e.g., Baumol and Oates 1988) developed the theory behind trading programs and therefore it is only natural that they have implemented a number of experimental testbeds to evaluate this theory (e.g., Cason 1995, Ishikida et al. 2000, Cason et al. 2003). These studies have, for the most part, examined larger trading programs and so this RFA emphasizes programs for new pollutants, media, and geographical areas.

The EPA currently supports a number of market mechanism research grants resulting from previous solicitations. Information regarding current research can be found on ORD's National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) web site at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/grants/.

B. Background
Market mechanisms and incentives, and trading in particular, are high priorities in EPA's Environmental Economics Research Strategy (EERS) (U.S. EPA 2005). (In their review of the EERS, EPA's Science Advisory Board (2004) supported this prioritization but also suggested science questions to deepen EPA's understanding of trading systems.) This priority reflects not only the depth of need but also the breadth of need for a better understanding across numerous regional, state, local, and federal entities. While large, single-pollutant trading programs, such as for SO2 and NOx, have been successful (e.g., Burtraw et al. 2005), other more localized trading programs have remained relatively inactive. For example, the RECLAIM market has experienced some difficulties and many water quality trading programs have low trading volumes (e.g., Burtraw et al. 2005, Morgan and Wolverton 2005). However, existing trading programs have saved billions of dollars in compliance costs and could save billions of dollars more every year (U.S. EPA 2001), so interest remains high.

The specific Strategic Goal, Objective and Sub-objective from EPA's Strategic Plan 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

This is the primary goal. This solicitation also supports the Cross-Goal Strategy: Economic and Policy Analysis. The EPA's Strategic Plan can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/plan/2003sp.pdf (PDF, 239pp., 4.75MB, about PDF).

C. 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.

D. Specific Research Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes
The Agency is soliciting research that proposes to increase the scientific understanding of the causes for success or failure of trading programs for new pollutants, media, and geographical areas, as well as the costs and benefits of such programs. This research will develop methods, models, or tools to translate the success of the SO2 and similar trading markets to new markets where trading has been (or may be) less successful. There are two parts to this RFA: Part 1 - Case Studies and Part 2 - Experimental Testbeds. The methods used in these two parts differ but the scope of research is identical across both parts. Research in either area can be prospective or retrospective.

Proposals responding to Part 1 - Case Studies may use any research methods (preferably quantitative) typically employed by environmental economists, including traditional case studies (e.g. Boyd 1998), numerical or simulation methods (e.g. Horan et al. 2005), or others (excluding experimental methods, which must be submitted under Part 2). Proposals responding to Part 2 - Experimental Testbeds may utilize any laboratory, computer, or field experimental methods used by environmental economists. Applicants wishing to apply to both Part 1 and Part 2 must apply separately, using the Funding Opportunity Number for the respective Parts.

The markets encompassed in the scope of research can cover any environmental quality issue: water, land, air, pesticides, etc. (Only markets addressing environmental quality will be considered for funding. For a more complete description of the focus of markets within the scope of this solicitation, see III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION.)

Applicants should not propose to study markets that are special cases; the insights gained from funded projects are anticipated to be transferable to other existing or potential markets. Successful proposals will be based on realistic scenarios and include as much realistic information as possible. (This could be demonstrated, for example, by the participation of local trading officials or market participants or by the use of calibrated, location-specific simulation models.)

Examples of areas within the scope of this research include (but are not limited to) those that consider:

  • Regional haze, criteria, toxic, and other air pollutants; persistent non-attainment areas for ambient air quality standards
  • Water pollution in the context of a TMDL or other standard for an estuary, aquifer, lake, or river system
  • Transferable development rights
  • Toxic chemicals and pesticides
  • Wetland or other mitigation banks

Because they are highly-studied, large-scale, and well-established, the SO2 trading program (established under Title IV of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990) and NOx trading programs (NOx Budget Trading Program or NOx SIP Call promulgated in 1998) are not within the scope of this solicitation. Offset programs (see U.S. EPA 2001) are not within the scope of this solicitation if the offsets are one-time transactions; there should be an actual market or similar system for credits to be exchanged.

Proposals must address at least one of the following three primary research questions to be considered for funding:

  • Why is a particular trading program effective or ineffective? What institutional, regulatory, and/or economic factors led to the success or failure of the program? For successful trading programs, how were barriers overcome? Why have unsuccessful programs not functioned as expected?
  • What are the efficiency gains (cost savings) and/or environmental gains from trading?
  • How can distributional concerns (e.g., hotspots) be accounted for in trading programs? What are the tradeoffs between efficiency and equity in trading programs?

(A "successful" trading program can be demonstrated in the proposal by such factors as the activity in the market, number of buyers and sellers, cost savings, or similar factors.)

The following research questions are also within scope of this solicitation:

  • How does monitoring frequency affect trading (e.g., in terms of participation rates, trading volumes, or market power of some participants)? How effectively does trading work without sufficient or credible emissions monitoring? Is continuous monitoring required for a successful program?
  • How does enforcement (e.g., number of inspections, amount of fines) affect trading?
  • How do trading ratios affect market activity? How should trading ratios be set? How does uncertainty regarding measurement or monitoring affect trading and trading ratios?
  • How does geographic or temporal scale affect trading?
  • How well does trading work in the context of multiple pollutants, pollutant precursors, media, and/or services?
  • In what contexts are third party facilitators/aggregators (e.g., local government entities) important for reducing transactions costs? In what context does banking improve market performance?
  • Can trading programs be effective in a voluntary context? What issues are involved with markets that begin as voluntary programs but could become official compliance tools and vice versa?
  • How do you design an effective trading program for environmental services?
  • How can trading programs that include non-point, mobile, and/or unregulated sources be successful?

The outputs of the proposed projects are descriptions of the trading programs or testbed results, applications of these, and experiences in using related methods. These items should appear in reports, presentations, and peer-reviewed journal publications, as well as in publicly-available knowledge-bases accessible through the internet. The desired outcomes of the proposed projects are research results to provide improved designs of trading programs to enhance environmental protection.

E. References

Banks, Jeffrey S., John O. Ledyard, and David P. Porter. 1989.  “Allocating uncertain and unresponsive resources: An experimental approach.” RAND Journal of Economics 20: 1-25.

Baumol, William J., and Wallace E. Oates. 1988. The Theory of Environmental Policy.  New York: Cambridge University Press.

Binmore, Ken, and Paul Klemperer. 2002. “The Biggest Auction Ever: The Sale of the British 3G Telecom Licences.”  The Economic Journal 112: C74-C96.

Boyd, James. 1998.  “Searching for the Profit in Pollution Prevention: Case Studies in the Corporate Evaluation of Environmental Opportunities.”  Resources for the Future Discussion Paper 98-30.  (http://www.rff.org/Documents/RFF-DP-98-30.pdf (PDF, 48pp., 168KB, about PDF)) exit EPA

Burtraw, Dallas, David A. Evans, Alan Krupnick, Karen Palmer, and Russell Toth.  2005.  “Economics of Pollution Trading for SO2 and NOx.”  Annual Review of Environment and Resources: 253-289.

Cason, Timothy N. 1995. “An Experimental Investigation of the Seller Incentives in the EPA’s Emission Trading Auction.” American Economic Review 85: 905-922.

Cason, Timothy N., Lata Gangadharan, and Charlotte Duke. 2003. “Market Power in Tradable Emission Markets: A Laboratory Testbed in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria.” Ecological Economics 46: 469-491.

Fang, Feng, K. William Easter, and Patrick L. Brezonik.  2005. “Point-nonpoint Source Water Quality Trading: A Case Study in the Minnesota River Basin.” Journal of the American Water Resources Association 41: 645-658.

Hoag, Dana L., and Jennie S. Hughes-Popp.  1997. “Theory and Practice of Pollution Credit Trading in Water Quality Management.” Review of Agricultural Economics 19: 252-262.

Horan, Richard D., James S. Shortle, and David G. Abler. 2004. “The Coordination and Design of Point-Nonpoint Trading Programs and Agri-Environmental Policies.”  Agricultural and Resource Economics Review 33: 61-78.

Ishikida, Takashi, John O. Ledyard, Mark Olson, and David Porter. 2000. “Experimental Testbedding of a Pollution Trading System: Southern California’s RECLAIM Emissions Market.” California Institute of Technology Social Science Working Paper 1094. (http://ideas.repec.org/p/clt/sswopa/1094.html) exit EPA

Morgan, Cynthia, and Ann Wolverton. 2005. “Water Quality Trading in the United States.” National Center for Environmental Economics Working Paper # 05-07. (http://yosemite.epa.gov/ee/epa/eed.nsf/WPNumberNew/2005-07)

Plott, Charles R. 1997.  “Laboratory Experimental Testbeds: Application to the PCS Auction.”  Journal of Economics and Management Strategy 6: 605-638. http://lema.smeal.psu.edu/msis597a/sessions/plott_pcs.pdf (PDF, 34pp., 326KB, about PDF) exit EPA

Rassenti, S.J., V.L. Smith, and R.L. Bolton. 1982. “A Combinatorial Auction Mechanism for Airport Time Slot Allocation.”  Bell Journal of Economics  13: 402-417.

Samuelson, Larry. 2005. “Economic Theory and Environmental Economics.”  Journal of Economic Literature 43: 65-107.

Shogren, Jason F. 2004. “Incentive Mechanism Testbeds: Discussion.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics 86: 1218-1219.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 2001. The United States Experience with Economic Incentives for Protecting the Environment.  EPA-240-R-01-001. (http://yosemite1.epa.gov/ee/epa/eed.nsf/Webpages/USExperienceWithEconomicIncentives.html)

U.S. EPA, Science Advisory Board (SAB). 2004. 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) (PDF, 30pp., 166KB, about PDF)

U.S. EPA. 2005. Environmental Economics Research Strategy. EPA/600/R-04/195. (http://www.epa.gov/research/htm/documents/econresearch.pdf) (PDF, 147pp., 4.80MB, about PDF)

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

Groups of two or more eligible applicants may choose to form a consortium and submit a single application for an assistance agreement. The application must identify which organization will be the recipient of the assistance agreement and which organizations(s) will be subawardees of the recipient.

The application must include a plan (see "Data Plan" in section IV.B.5.c.) 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.

Applicants will be evaluated based on the policy-relevance of their proposals and other considerations (see Section V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION). Applicants are encouraged to demonstrate their understanding of actual trading programs through advisory boards, plans to include local market participants as subjects, input of officials through letters of intent, and similar means.

II. AWARD INFORMATION

It is anticipated that a total of approximately $2 million will be awarded under this announcement, depending on the availability of funds and quality of applications received. The EPA anticipates funding approximately 6 grants under this RFA.

The projected award per grant is $50,000 to $125,000 per year total costs, for up to 1.5 years, for Part 1, and $100,000 to $400,000 per year total costs, for up to 3 years, for Part 2. Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $200,000, including direct and indirect costs, for Part 1, and a total of $1,000,000, including direct and indirect costs, for Part 2, will not be considered. The total project period for an application submitted in response to this RFA may not exceed 1.5 years for Part 1 and 3 years for Part 2.

The EPA reserves the right to reject all applications and make no awards under this RFA or make fewer awards than anticipated. The EPA reserves the right to make additional awards under this RFA, consistent with Agency policy, if additional funding becomes available. Any additional selections for awards will be made no later than 4 months after the original selection decisions.

EPA intends to fund approximately 4 distinct projects (approximately $250,000-$333,000 each) investigating different markets under Part 2. These projects may be under multiple grants or encompassed in one award.

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

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 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

A. Eligible Applicants
Public nonprofit institutions/organizations (includes public institutions of higher education and hospitals) and private nonprofit institutions/organizations (includes private institutions of higher education and hospitals) located in the U.S.; state and local governments; Federally Recognized Indian Tribal Governments; and U.S. territories or possessions are eligible to apply. Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive assistance 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 that lobby are not eligible to apply.

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

Federal Agencies may not apply. Federal employees are not eligible to serve in a principal leadership role on a grant, and may not receive salaries or augment their Agency's appropriations in other ways through grants made by this program.

The applicant institution may enter into an agreement with a Federal Agency to purchase or utilize unique supplies or services unavailable in the private sector. Examples are purchase of satellite data, census data tapes, chemical reference standards, analyses, or use of instrumentation or other facilities not available elsewhere. A written justification for federal involvement must be included in the application. In addition, an appropriate form of assurance that documents the commitment, such as a letter of intent from the Federal Agency involved, should be included.

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

B. Cost-Sharing
Institutional cost-sharing is not required.

C. Other
Applications must substantially comply with the application submission instructions and requirements set forth in Section IV of this announcement or they will be rejected. In addition, where a page limitation is expressed in Section IV with respect to parts of the application, pages in excess of the page limit will not be reviewed. Applications must be received by the EPA, or Grants.gov, on or before the solicitation closing date and time in Section IV of this announcement or they will be returned to the sender without further consideration. Also, applications exceeding the funding limits described herein, or that exceed the project period term specified in Section II, will be returned without review. Further, applications that fail to demonstrate a public purpose of support or stimulation (e.g., by proposing research which primarily benefits a Federal program or provides a service for a Federal agency) will not be funded.

In addition, in order to be eligible for funding consideration, a project's focus generally must be one that is specified in the statutes mentioned above (in Section I). For most of the cited statutes, a project must address the causes, effects, extent, prevention, reduction, and elimination of air pollution, water pollution, solid/hazardous waste pollution, toxic substances control, or pesticide control. The overarching concern or principal focus must be on the statutory purpose of the applicable grant authority, in most cases "to prevent or control pollution." In light of this, proposals relating to other topics which are sometimes included within the term "environment" such as water supply, recreation, conservation, restoration, protection of wildlife habitats, etc., should describe the relationship of these topics to the statutorily required purpose of pollution prevention and/or control.

The SO2 and NOx trading markets and one-time offset programs are not within scope of this solicitation. Proposals must address at least one of the three primary research questions listed in I.D to be considered for funding.

Applicants deemed ineligible for funding consideration will be notified within 15 calendar days of the ineligibility determination.

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 types of submission follow. If not otherwise marked, instructions apply to both types of submissions.

A. Internet Address to Request Application Package
For paper applications, forms, formats, and instructions can be found on the NCER web site: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/.

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

For both paper and electronic applications, an email will be sent by NCER to the Principal Investigator and the Administrative Contact (see below) to acknowledge receipt of the application and transmit other important information. The email will be sent from receipt.application@epa.gov; email to this address will not be accepted. If you do not receive an email acknowledgment within 30 days of the submission closing date, immediately contact the Technical Contact listed under "Agency Contacts" in this solicitation. Failure to do so may result in your application not being reviewed. See "Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications" for additional information regarding acknowledgment of receipt of electronically submitted applications. Please note: Due to often lengthy delays in delivery, it is especially important that you monitor NCER's confirmation of receipt of your application when using regular mail.

B. 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.

  1. Standard Form 424

    The applicant must complete form SF424. This form will be the first page(s) of the application. Instructions for completion of the SF424 are included with the form. (However, note that EPA requires that the entire requested dollar amount appear on the 424, not simply the proposed first year expenses.) 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 on the SF424.

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

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

  2. Key Contacts

    The applicant must complete the "Key Contacts" form as the second page of the application; a Key Contacts continuation page is also available at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms. The Key Contacts form should also be completed for major sub-agreements (i.e., primary co-investigators). Please make certain that all contact information is accurate.

  3. Table of Contents

    Provide a list of the major subdivisions of the application indicating the page number on which each section begins. (Not required for electronic submissions.)

  4. 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 (a-h). Examples of abstracts for current grants may be found on the NCER web site.

    1. Research Category and Funding Opportunity Numbers: The appropriate research areas and associated numbers for this RFA are:
      Market Mechanisms and Incentives: Case Studies and Experimental Testbeds for New Environmental Trading Programs, Part 1-Case Studies (USEPA-G2006-STAR-P1), Part 2-Experimental Testbeds (USEPA-G2006-STAR-P2)
    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 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.

  5. Research Plan and Quality Assurance Statement

    1. Research Plan (15 -30 pages-See explanation below)

      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 under Part 1, and proposals under Part 2 requesting funding for only one project (see II. AWARD INFORMATION), 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. For proposals under Part 2 requesting funding for projects additional to the first (up to 3 additional, 4 total), the research plan may be 5 pages longer per additional project, up to 30 pages total.

      The description must provide the following information (recommendations for page numbers are for 15-page Research Plans; for Part 2 applications allowed additional space, the bulk of that additional space should be allocated to item 2, Approach/Activities, with some additional space allocated to each of the other items):

      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 and how it fulfills the requirements of the solicitation. Describe the policy, planning and/or decision-making that the research is intended to inform. 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 assistance agreement awarded under the STAR program, indicate the number of the agreement and provide a brief report of progress and results achieved under it (one to two pages recommended). Where do they say if it is for part 1 or 2, and if for part 2 which projects it covers? [They say Part 1 or 2 by picking a FON.]
      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 potential 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. Appendices may be included but must remain within the research plan page limit.

    2. Quality Assurance Statement (2 pages in addition to the research plan page limit) For projects involving environmental data collection or processing, conducting surveys, modeling, method development, or the development of environmental technology (whether hardware-based or via new techniques), provide a Quality Assurance Statement (QAS) regarding the plans for processes that will be used to ensure that the products of the research satisfy the intended project objectives. Follow the guidelines provided below to ensure that the QAS describes a system that complies with ANSI/ASQC E4, Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology Programs. Do not exceed three consecutively numbered, 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced, standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins.

      Address each section below by including the required information, referencing the specific location of the information in the Research Plan, or explaining why the section does not apply to the proposed research.

      1. Identify the individual who will be responsible for the quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) aspects of the research along with a brief description of this person's functions, experience, and authority within the research organization. Describe the organization's general approach for conducting quality research. (QA is a system of management activities to ensure that a process or item is of the type and quality needed for the project. QC is a system of activities that measures the attributes and performance of a process or item against the standards defined in the project documentation to verify that they meet those stated requirements.)
      2. Discuss project objectives, including quality objectives, any hypotheses to be tested, and the quantitative and/or qualitative procedures that will be used to evaluate the success of the project. Include any plans for peer or other reviews of the study design or analytical methods.
      3. Address each of the following project elements as applicable:
        1. Collection of new/primary data:
          (Note: In this case the word "sample" is intended to mean any finite part of a statistical population whose properties are studied to gain information about the whole. If certain attributes listed below do not apply to the type of samples to be used in your research, simply explain why those attributes are not applicable.)
          1. Discuss the plan for sample collection and analysis. As applicable, include sample type(s), frequency, locations, sample sizes, sampling procedures, and the criteria for determining acceptable data quality (e.g., precision, accuracy, representativeness, completeness, comparability, or data quality objectives).
          2. Describe the procedures for the handling and custody of samples including sample collection, identification, preservation, transportation, and storage, and how the accuracy of test measurements will be verified.
          3. Describe or reference each analytical method to be used, any QA or QC checks or procedures with the associated acceptance criteria, and any procedures that will be used in the calibration and performance evaluation of the analytical instrumentation.
          4. Discuss the procedures for overall data reduction, analysis, and reporting. Include a description of all statistical methods to make inferences and conclusions, acceptable error rates and/or power, and any statistical software to be used.
        2. Use of existing/secondary data (i.e., data previously collected for other purposes or from other sources):
          1. Describe or reference each analytical method to be used, any QA or QC checks or procedures with the associated acceptance criteria, and any procedures that will be used in the calibration and performance evaluation of the analytical instrumentation.
          2. Discuss the procedures for overall data reduction, analysis, and reporting. Include a description of all statistical methods to make inferences and conclusions, acceptable error rates and/or power, and any statistical software to be used.
        3. Method development:
          (Note: The data collected for use in method development or evaluation should be described in the QAS as per the guidance in section 3A and/or 3B above.)

          Describe the scope and application of the method, any tests (and measurements) to be conducted to support the method development, the type of instrumentation that will be used and any required instrument conditions (e.g., calibration frequency), planned QC checks and associated criteria (e.g., spikes, replicates, blanks), and tests to verify the method's performance.

        4. Development or refinement of models:
          (Note: The data collected for use in the development or refinement of models should be described in the QAS as per the guidance in section 3A and/or 3B above.)
          1. Discuss the scope and purpose of the model, key assumptions to be made during development/refinement, requirements for code development, and how the model will be documented.
          2. Discuss verification techniques to ensure the source code implements the model correctly.
          3. Discuss validation techniques to determine that the model (assumptions and algorithms) captures the essential phenomena with adequate fidelity.
          4. Discuss plans for long-term maintenance of the model and associated data.
        5. Development or operation of environmental technology:
          (Note: The data collected for use in the development or evaluation of the technology should be described in the QAS as per the guidance in section 3A and/or 3B above.)
          1. Describe the overall purpose and anticipated impact of the technology.
          2. Describe the technical and quality specifications of each technology component or process that is to be designed, fabricated, constructed, and/or operated.
          3. Discuss the procedure to be used for documenting and controlling design changes.
          4. Discuss the procedure to be used for documenting the acceptability of processes and components, and discuss how the technology will be benchmarked and its effectiveness determined.
          5. Discuss the documentation requirements for operating instructions/guides for maintenance and use of the system(s) and/or process(s).
        6. Conducting surveys:
          (Note: The data to be collected in the survey and any supporting data should be described in the QAS as per the guidance in section 3A and/or 3B above.)

          Discuss the justification for the size of the proposed sample for both the overall project and all subsamples for specific treatments or tests. Identify and explain the rational for the proposed statistical techniques (e.g., evaluation of statistical power).

      4. Discuss data management activities (e.g., record-keeping procedures, data-handling procedures, and the approach used for data storage and retrieval on electronic media). Include any required computer hardware and software and address any specific performance requirements for the hardware/software configuration used.

        Page allowances for the following section(s) are in addition to those allowed for the Research Plan and Quality Assurance Statement.

    3. Data Plan (2 pages in addition to the research plan page limit)

      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.

    4. References: References cited are in addition to the Research Plan page limit.
  6. Budget and Budget Justification
    1. 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 and budget justification 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 application 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.

    2. Budget Justification (2 pages in addition to the Section 5 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) and specifically identify computers to be purchased or upgraded.
      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.
  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Guidelines, Limitations, and Additional Requirements
    1. 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.

    2. Funding Opportunity Number

      At various places in the application, applicants are asked to identify the Funding Opportunity Number. The number must be placed at the top of the abstract (location is shown in the abstract format, http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms) and on Standard Form 424 for all applications. For paper submissions, the number must also be placed in the address on the package that is sent to the EPA (see below). Each application must be submitted using a single Funding Opportunity Number.

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

    3. Letters of Intent/Letters of Support

      Letters of intent to provide resources for the proposed research or to specify intended interactions are limited to one brief paragraph committing the availability of a resource (e.g., use of a person's time or equipment) or intended interaction (e.g. sharing of data, as needed consultation) that is described in the Research Plan. Letters of intent are to be included as an addition to the budget justification documents.

      All letters that do not commit a resource vital to success of the proposal are considered letters of support. Letters of support, and letters of intent that exceed one brief paragraph, are considered part of the Research Plan and are included in the Research Plan page limit.

C. Submission Dates and Times

For paper copy submissions, the original and two (2) copies of the complete application (3 in all, see below), 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 exit EPA.

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

Solicitation Closing Date: September 27, 2006, 4:00 pm Eastern Time
Earliest Anticipated Start Date: June 2007

D. 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 an assistance agreement 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, 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 funding opportunity 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 financial assistance 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 and/or Part 31. 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.

E. Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements
You may submit either a paper application or an electronic application (but not both) for this announcement.

  1. Submission Instructions for Paper Applications

    Three (3) copies of the application must be submitted: 1) an original, signed copy; 2) a single-sided copy on plain white paper for scanning (please label this copy); and 3) another photocopy for administrative purposes. What about the additional abstract? Do not permanently bind or staple any of these copies; please use either binder or paper clips to secure them.

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

    The following address must be used for regular mail:

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Peer Review Division (8725F)
    Funding opportunity number: EPA-G2006-STAR-P1 or EPA-G2006-STAR-P2
    1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20460

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

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Peer Review Division (8725F)
    Funding opportunity number: EPA-G2006-STAR-P1 or EPA-G2006-STAR-P2
    1025 F Street, NW (Room 3500)
    Washington, DC 20004
    Phone: (202) 233-0686

  2. Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications

    Please read this entire section before attempting an electronic submission through Grants.gov.

    1. Preparing for Submission. The appropriate electronic application package available through the http://www.grants.gov 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 using the appropriate Funding Opportunity Number. Be sure to download the electronic application package for the appropriate Funding Opportunity Number. "Register to Receive Notification" in order to receive automatic notification of announcement updates.

      The submission of an electronic application to Grants.gov must be made by an authorized organizational representative (AOR) of the submitting institution who is registered with Grants.gov. Please see http://www.grants.gov/, "Get Started" for further information. The registration process may take a week or longer. Investigators should check with their Sponsored Programs or equivalent office to locate an AOR. Most submission problems can be avoided by communicating with the AOR well before the solicitation closing date and allowing sufficient time for following the guidance provided below should submission problems be experienced.

    2. Acknowledgement of Receipt. 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"). Grants.gov provides acknowledgements of application receipt that include an on-screen notification of successful initial transfer as well as an e-mail notification of successful transfer from Grants.gov to EPA. While it is advisable to retain copies of these Grants.gov acknowledgements to document submission, the only official documentation that the application has been received by NCER is the e-mail acknowledgement sent by NCER to the Principal Investigator and the Administrative Contact. This email will be sent from receipt.application@epa.gov; email to this address will not be accepted. If an email acknowledgment from NCER (not support@grants.gov) has not been received within 30 days of the solicitation closing date, immediately contact the technical contact listed under "Agency Contacts" in this solicitation for instructions on how to proceed. Failure to do so may result in your application not being reviewed.
    3. Form of Application. The application package consists of 1 though 4 (below). Item 4 must be submitted in one Adobe Acrobat PDF file. Please review the file for conversion errors prior to including it in the electronic application package; requests to rectify conversion errors will not be accepted if made after the solicitation closing date and time.
      1. On the initial electronic Grant Application Package page, complete the "Application Filing Name" field by entering the Principal Investigator's name, starting with the last name.
      2. Application for Federal Assistance (SF-424): Complete the form.
      3. EPA Key Contacts Form 5700-54: Complete the form. If additional pages are needed, see (4) below.
      4. Add Mandatory Project Narrative, budget, and related information: Attach a single electronic file labeled "Application" that contains the items in Section IV.B.4 through IV.B.8 and IV.B.9c of this announcement. If Key Contacts Continuation pages are needed, place them before the Abstract (IV.B.4.). Investigators should save the completed application package with two different file names before providing it to the AOR to avoid having to re-create the package should submission problems be experienced and are cautioned to review files for PDF conversion errors before forwarding.
    4. Transfer of Files.

      The application package must be transferred to Grants.gov by an AOR. The AOR should close all other software before attempting to submit the application package. Click the "submit" button of the application package. Your internet browser will launch and a sign-in page will appear. Once the application package has been completed, the "Submit" button should be enabled. If the "Submit" button is not active, please contact Grants.gov for assistance (Telephone: 1-800-518-4726). Note: Minor problems are not uncommon with transfers to Grants.gov. It is essential to allow sufficient time to follow all trouble-shooting instructions before 4:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date.

      A successful transfer will end with an on-screen acknowledgement. "Print Screen" this acknowledgement for documentation purposes. If you experience submission problems, reboot the computer - turning the power off may be necessary - and re-attempt the submission. If submission problems continue, contact Grants.gov for assistance (Telephone: 1-800-518-4726).

    5. Transmission Difficulties
      1. Late transfer due to electronic submission problems: Should electronic submission problems associated with the Grants.gov Web site result in the application being transferred to Grants.gov after 4:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date, send an e-mail documenting the problem (include the Grants.gov "case number") to Harrison.Bronda@EPA.gov no later than 5:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date.
      2. Unsuccessful transfer of application package: If a successful transfer of the application cannot be accomplished due to electronic submission issues associated with the Grants.gov Web site, send an e-mail to Harrison.Bronda@EPA.gov. This e-mail must document the problem, provide the Grants.gov "case number," have the entire application attached, and be sent no later than 5:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date.

        Applications received after the solicitation closing date and time, but no later than 5:00 pm Eastern Time, may be considered for review only if the electronic submission instructions have been followed and the documentation provided clearly shows the delay was solely as a result of problems with the transfer to Grants.gov.

      3. Grants.gov rejection of application: If the final notification from Grants.gov indicates that the application has been rejected, immediately contact the individual listed as the "Electronic Submissions" contact in this solicitation.

V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION

A. Criteria:
Individual external peer review panel members consider 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.

B. Review and Selection Process
All eligible grant applications are reviewed by an appropriate external technical peer review panel comprised of individual experts using the criteria above. This review is designed to evaluate each application according to its scientific merit. Each peer review panel includes non-EPA scientists, engineers, social scientists, and/or economists who are accomplished in their respective disciplines and proficient in the technical subjects they are reviewing. Reviewers are asked to individually assign a score of excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor to each application. EPA translates the average of these individual scores into the final panel review score.

Applications receiving final panel review scores of excellent or very good as a result of the peer review process will then undergo an internal programmatic review, as described below, 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.

In addition, after the peer review, those applicants who received scores of excellent or very good as a result of the peer review process will be asked to provide additional information for the programmatic review pertaining to the proposed Lead Principal Investigator's (PI) "Past Performance and Reporting History." The applicant must provide the EPA Project Officer with information on the proposed Lead PI's past performance under prior Federal agency assistance agreements in terms of: (i) the level of success in performing each agreement, and (ii) how progress towards achieving the results intended under each agreement was reported. This information is required only for the proposed Lead PI's performance under Federal assistance agreements initiated within the last three years that were similar in size and scope to the proposed project.

The specific information that will be required for each agreement is shown below, and must be provided within three weeks of EPA's request. A maximum of three pages is permitted for the response; pages in excess of three will not be reviewed. Note: If no prior past performance information exists, please state this.

  1. Name of Granting Agency.
  2. Grant/Cooperative agreement number.
  3. Grant/Cooperative agreement title.
  4. Brief description of the grant/cooperative agreement.
  5. A description of how the agreement is similar in size and scope to the proposed project and whether or not it was successfully performed; if not successfully performed, provide an explanation.
  6. Information relating to the proposed Lead PI's past performance in reporting on progress towards achieving the expected results (outputs/outcomes) under the agreement, and if such progress was not made, an explanation of whether, and how, this was reported.
  7. Total (all years) grant/cooperative agreement dollar value.
  8. Project period.
  9. Technical contact (project officer), telephone number, and E-mail address (if available).

The internal programmatic review panel will consider:

  • The relevance of the proposed science to EPA research priorities.
  • The proposed Lead PI's past performance (under Federal agency assistance agreements initiated within the last three years that were similar in size and scope to the proposed project) in two areas: First, in successfully performing these prior Federal assistance projects, including whether there is a satisfactory explanation for any lack of success. Second, in reporting progress towards achieving results under these agreements, including the proposed Lead PI's history of submitting timely progress/final technical reports that adequately describe the progress toward achieving the expected results (outputs/outcomes) under the agreements. Any explanation of why progress towards achieving the results was not made will also be considered. Applicants whose proposed Lead PI has no relevant past performance history, or for whom this information is not available, will be evaluated neither favorably nor unfavorably on past performance.
  • The applicant's organizational experience.

In addition, as part of the programmatic review, EPA will consider the extent to which the proposed project demonstrates 1) an understanding of actual trading programs through advisory boards, plans to include local market participants as subjects, input of officials through letters of intent, and similar means and 2) a potential to generate transferable results. Furthermore, for proposals responding to Part 1, EPA will also consider the extent to which the proposed project provides quantitative answers to the questions posed in Section I.

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

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

VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION

A. 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 is authorized 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.

B. 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.

C. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
Expectations and responsibilities of NCER grantees and cooperative agreement holders are summarized in this section, although the terms grant and grantee are used. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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 non-specialists 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://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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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 this agreement that are intended 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 STAR Research Assistance Agreement No. __________ awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It has not been formally reviewed by the EPA. The views expressed in this document are solely those of [name of recipient] and the EPA does not endorse any products or commercial services mentioned in this publication.

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

VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the EPA officials indicated below. Information regarding this RFA obtained from sources other than these Agency Contacts may not be accurate. Email inquiries are preferred.

Eligibility Contact: Tom Barnwell: 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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