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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

Ecological Impacts from the Interactions of Climate Change, Land Use Change and Invasive Species: A Joint Research Solicitation - EPA, USDA

This is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity.

Funding Opportunity Number:

  • EPA-G2007-STAR-H1 Aquatic Ecosystems
  • EPA-G2007-STAR-H2 Terrestrial Ecosystems

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: EPA: 66.509; USDA: 10.206

Solicitation Opening Date: March 26, 2007
Solicitation Closing Date: June 26, 2007, 4:00 pm Eastern Time

Eligibility Contact: Tom Barnwell (barnwell.thomas@epa.gov); phone: 202-343-9862
Electronic Submissions: Thomas O'Farrell (o'farrell.thomas@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8085
USDA Technical Contact: Nancy Cavallaro (ncavallaro@csrees.usda.gov); phone: 202-401-5176
EPA Technical Contact: Brandon Jones (jones.brandon@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8053

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. Peer Review
B. Programmatic Review
C. Funding Decisions
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 Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Research Initiative (NRI) Competitive Grants Program are seeking applications for research on the ecological impacts from interactions of climate change, land use change, and invasive species. An invasive species is an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health1.

The purpose of this joint solicitation is to quantitatively investigate how climate change, climate variability, and land use change: (1) influence the establishment, abundance and distribution of invasive species; (2) interact with invasive species to create feedbacks that increase their success; (3) interact with invasive species to cause threshold responses in natural and managed systems; or (4) affect the chemical, biological and mechanical management of invasive species. The EPA is interested in proposals addressing aquatic ecosystems and the USDA in proposals addressing managed terrestrial systems, both of which can be used to enhance decision support tools used by decision makers to respond to invasive species.

1 Executive Order 13112; Also from EO 13112, an alien species is, with respect to a particular ecosystem, any species, including its seeds, eggs, spores, or other biological material capable of propagating that species, that is not native to that ecosystem.

Award Information:
Anticipated Type of Award: Grants or cooperative agreements
Estimated Number of Awards and Anticipated Funding Amount:
EPA: Approximately 5 grants or cooperative agreements are anticipated, with an estimated total funding level of approximately $2.5 million.
USDA: Approximately 3 grants or cooperative agreements are anticipated, with an estimated total funding level of approximately $1.4 million.
Potential Funding per Award: Up to a total of $600,000, including direct and indirect costs, with the duration not to exceed 2-4 years for EPA and USDA proposals. Cost-sharing is not required. Proposals with budgets exceeding the total award limits will not be considered.

Eligibility Criteria and Agency Participation

Research Focus

Research Plan Limit

Funding Limit

EPA

Aquatic ecosystems

15 pages

$600 K

USDA

Terrestrial ecosystems

15 pages

$600 K

Table 1. A summary of the funding and eligibility criteria for each participating agency’s research focus.

Eligibility Information:
EPA
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.

USDA
Except where otherwise prohibited by law, State agricultural experiment stations, all colleges and universities, other research institutions and organizations, Federal agencies, National Laboratories, public and private organizations or corporations, and individuals are eligible to apply for and to receive a competitive grant through the National Research Initiative of Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES).

Application Materials:
All proposals submitted under this joint solicitation must follow the requirements for STAR applications, regardless of whether the proposal addresses EPA’s or USDA’s research interests. You may submit either a paper application or an electronic application (but not both) for this announcement. The necessary forms for submitting a STAR application will be found on the National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) web site, http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/. To apply electronically, you must use the application package available at Grants.gov (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 Person(s):
Eligibility Contact: Tom Barnwell (barnwell.thomas@epa.gov); phone: 202-343-9862
Electronic Submissions: Thomas O'Farrell (o'farrell.thomas@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8085
USDA Technical Contact: Nancy Cavallaro (ncavallaro@csrees.usda.gov); phone: 202-401-5176
EPA Technical Contact: Brandon Jones (jones.brandon@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8053

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

A. Introduction
The EPA’s Office of Research and Development, National Center for Environmental Research and the USDA’s Cooperative State Research Education Extension Service (CSREES), National Research Initiative announces a funding competition supporting research on the consequences of global change on invasive species. Per Executive Order 13112, an invasive species is an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. The purpose of this joint solicitation is to quantitatively investigate how climate change, climate variability, and land use change: (1) influence the establishment, abundance and distribution of invasive species; (2) interact with invasive species to create feedbacks that increase their success; (3) interact with invasive species to cause threshold responses in natural and managed systems; or (4) affect the chemical, biological and mechanical management of invasive species. The EPA is particularly interested in linked aquatic-terrestrial ecosystems and the USDA in managed terrestrial systems.

B. Background
Established by the Global Change Research Act of 1990, the United States Global Change Research Program is a collaborative interagency program designed to enhance the understanding of natural and human-induced global and climate change and provide a sound scientific foundation for national and international decision-making.

Thirteen federal departments and agencies with their respective missions and appropriations conduct and sponsor climate and global change research responsive to the goals of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (USCCSP) which incorporates the USGCRP and the Climate Change Research Initiative. The Strategic Plan for the USCCSP may be found at (http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/stratplan2003/default.htm).

Proposals responding to this solicitation will address goals 3, 4 and 5 of the USCCSP Strategic Plan. In particular, EPA and USDA are seeking proposals that will address the following research questions, as identified in the Ecosystems chapter of the USCCSP Strategic Plan, as they relate to invasive species:

8.1. What are the most important feedbacks between ecological systems and global change (especially climate), and what are their quantitative relationships?
8.2. What are the potential consequences of global change for ecological systems?
8.3. What are the options for sustaining and improving ecological systems and related goods and services, given projected global changes?

Applicants to this program are encouraged to read the overview and goals of the USCCSP Strategic Plan (http://www.climatescience.gov/infosheets/factsheet3/default.htm) as well as its chapter on Changing Ecosystems (http://www.usgcrp.gov/usgcrp/ProgramElements/bio.htm).

EPA
The intent of EPA’s Global Change Research Program is to improve society’s ability to respond and adapt to future consequences of global change. This entails: (1) improving the scientific capabilities and basis for projecting and evaluating effects and vulnerabilities of global change; (2) assessing the ecological, human health and socioeconomic risks and opportunities presented by global change; and (3) assessing management and adaptation options to improve society’s ability to effectively respond to the risks and opportunities presented by global change. Investigations of the effects of global change on freshwater and coastal ecosystems and their related ecosystem services in the context of other stressors and human dimensions are a particular focus of EPA’s Global Change Research Program.

The EPA’s Science to Achieve Results Global Change Research Program sponsors targeted research to support these goals. Previous EPA STAR Global Change solicitations and their associated links are provided below:

http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/archive/grants/01/global01.html.
http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/2004/2004_climate_change.html.
http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/2005/2005_nonlinear_responses.html.

This solicitation seeks research proposals that use the best available scientific models, experimental methods, and data analyses to elucidate how global change factors interact with invasive species dynamics to create feedbacks to freshwater and coastal ecosystems. The specific global change factors of interest are climate change, climate variability, land use change, and changes in hydrologic regime. Ecosystem feedbacks of particular interest are those that further promote successful biological invasions or trigger a threshold response (state change) in the ecosystem with concomitant loss of ecosystem services.

Applicants are encouraged to develop decision-support resources for stakeholders, such as analytical methods, models, and other tools. Research results should suggest science-based priorities for management of invasive species at regional to local scales in order to protect and sustain the quality of aquatic ecosystems and their services in the face of global change stressors. Proposals that lead either directly or indirectly to management solutions that address an invasive species problem are strongly encouraged.

The specific Strategic Goal and Objective from EPA’s Strategic Plan that relate to this solicitation are: Goal 4: Healthy Communities and Ecosystems, Objective 4.4: Enhance Science and Research.

The EPA’s Strategic Plan can be found at www.epa.gov/ocfo/plan/2006/entire_report.pdf (184 pp, 11.6 MB, about PDF)

Linking with Stakeholders:

EPA Regional Scientists and/or Invasive Species Liaisons may be available to facilitate partnerships between principal investigators and State, Tribal, or local managers and decision makers following grant award.

There is also a public Biological Invasions Researcher Database designed for individuals researching or addressing invasive species to identify potential collaborators. The Biological Invasions Researcher Database can be accessed at http://www.bio.miami.edu/nsfinvdb/add.html exit EPA.

Finally, information on coordinated programs addressing the prevention and control of aquatic invasive species in a particular geographical region can be found by visiting the federal Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force (ANSTF) website at: http://www.anstaskforce.gov/panels.php. The task force is made up of five Regional Panels whose members represent Federal, state and local organizations.

USDA

USDA’s CSREES participates in this solicitation through the USDA National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program. The purpose of the National Research Initiative Program is to support research grants and integrated research, extension, and education grants that address key problems of national, regional, and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of agriculture (farming, ranching, forestry including urban and agroforestry, aquaculture, rural communities and human health and well-being). The Program supports a spectrum of research that bridges the basic and applied sciences and results in practical outcomes. It encourages multi-disciplinary research, which is needed to solve complex problems, and seeks to initiate research in new areas of science and engineering that are relevant to agriculture, food, forestry, and the environment.

Both mission-linked research and fundamental research are supported by the National Research Initiative Program and both are essential to the sustainability of agriculture. The USDA/CSREES vision is: “Agriculture is a knowledge-based, global enterprise, sustained by the innovation of scientists and educators.”

The National Research Initiative Global Change Research Program is consistent with the USCCSP and contributes to the many goals set forth in USCCSP Strategic Plan (Climate Change Science Program: http://www.climatescience.gov). This RFA is the latest in a series of related funding announcements. Descriptions of previous global change RFAs and research grants resulting from these solicitations can be found on the CSREES website at the following URLs: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/fo/fundview.cfm?fonum=1360, and http://www.csrees.usda.gov/fo/fundview.cfm?fonum=1076.

For this solicitation, the National Research Initiative Climate Change Program is interested in research applications to establish cause and effect relationships between climate changes and the abundance and distribution of invasive species, and the impact these species have on agroecosystems. Enhanced ability to identify, predict outbreaks of, control and eliminate invasive species would directly (and strongly) support two of the five CSREES strategic goals: i.e., “Enhance protection and safety of the nation’s agriculture and food supply” (goal 3- especially objective 3.2); and “Protect and enhance the nation’s natural; resource based and environment” (goal 5-especially objective 5.1). The CSREES Strategic Plan can be found on the following webpage:
http://www.csrees.usda.gov/fo/fundview.cfm?fonum=1360
http://www.csrees.usda.gov/fo/fundview.cfm?fonum=1076

C. Authority and Regulations
The EPA authority for this RFA and resulting awards is contained in the Clean Water Act, Section 104, 33 U.S.C. § 1254. For research with an international aspect, the above statutes are supplemented, as appropriate, by the National Environmental Policy Act, Section 102 (2)(F).

The USDA authority for this RFA is contained in 7 U.S.C. 450i (b). Under this authority, subject to the availability of funds, the Secretary may award competitive research grants, for periods not to exceed five years, for the support of research projects to further the programs of the USDA.

D. Specific Research Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes
EPA
Invasive species are a pervasive problem nationally and globally in both terrestrial and aquatic systems. They have the potential to cause significant ecological and economic damage. By one estimate, invasive species in the United States cause major environmental damages and losses totaling almost $120 billion per year (Pimentel et al. 2005).

Ecological and environmental changes are known to contribute to the increasing abundance and distribution of invasive species. For example, natural and anthropogenic disturbances generally correlate with increased habitat invasibility (Ashton 2005, Ailstock et al. 2001, Byers 2002, Cohen and Carlton 1998, Tickner et al. 2001, Zedler and Kerchner 2004,). However, the interactive effects of global change factors and feedbacks within the ecosystem are not well established (Dukes and Mooney 1999). Individual factors that have been investigated include increased carbon dioxide and changes in water availability, salinity, and temperature. For example, increased carbon dioxide results in increased productivity, soil moisture, and nitrogen uptake which can create favorable conditions for species invasion (Weltzin et al. 2003); depending on the species and habitat, low water availability may reduce or increase the likelihood of invasion (e.g., Alpert and Holzapfel 2000, Barnes 1999, Lonsdale 1993, Minchinton 2002, Wilcox et al. 2003); decreased salinity in wetland systems could encourage invasion (Minchinton 2002); and greater seasonal water temperature variations correlate with greater invasive species success (Alexander et al. 1994, McFarland and Barko 1999). Stachowitz et al. (2002) have noted that the greatest effects of climate change on biotic communities will likely be through changes in maximum and minimum changes rather than annual means. By giving introduced species an early start and increasing the magnitude of their growth, global warming may facilitate a shift to dominance by invasive species.

Physical as well as biotic processes may be important when examining factors that contribute to feedbacks leading to alternative states (Dent et al. 2002). In New Zealand, de Winton and Clayton (1996) observed that invasive submerged weed species increased sediment accumulation in lakes, thereby burying native seed banks and creating a feedback that produced an alternative state in the system. Such species may be referred to as “transformers,” a subset of invasive species that change the character, condition, form or nature of ecosystems over a substantial area relative to the extent of that ecosystem (Richardson et al. 2000).

Recent research has suggested new management strategies. For example, when considering global change effects on the invasive reed Phragmites australis, Aseda et al. (2003) proposed that managers reintroduce tidal flooding to increase soil salinity. Minchinton (2002) suggested more frequent monitoring of sites where freshwater flows have increased, in order to ensure early detection of Phragmites. Researchers have also suggested that river management practices that maintain or mimic natural stream-flow regimes in southwestern rivers decreases the spread of salt cedar by creating conditions favorable to native riparian tree species (Lite and Stromberg 2005, Shafroth et al. 2002).

This solicitation seeks proposals that extend the field of invasive species research to explicitly include the interaction of multiple global change factors and their effects on linked terrestrial-freshwater and terrestrial-coastal systems. The primary global change factors of interest are climate change, climate variability, and land use change; relevant co-occurring stressors such as changes in hydrologic regime, including engineered water management systems, may also be considered. Ecosystem feedbacks of particular interest are those that further promote successful biological invasions or trigger a threshold response (state change) in the ecosystem with concomitant loss of ecosystem services. EPA is particularly interested in the interactive effects of global change stressors on ecosystem services such as maintenance of surface and groundwater quality and quantity, drinking water quality and quantity, biotic integrity and resilience, and recreational uses of freshwater and coastal systems.

Successful proposals must address how global change factors, as defined for this solicitation, do all of the following:

  • affect the establishment, abundance, and distribution of invasive species, including causing nonnative species to become invasive and the mechanisms by which these changes occur;
  • interact with invasive species to create feedbacks that further promote successful biological invasions or trigger threshold responses in linked aquatic-terrestrial ecosystems;
  • affect current management of invasive species, such that methods and protocols may need to be altered to protect or restore ecosystem services and integrity.

In addition, successful proposals must describe the following:

  1. Hypothesized relationship between global change factors and invasive species, including a description of how the global change factors to be investigated exacerbate existing patterns of biological invasions;
  2. Ecosystem services known, or hypothesized, to be impaired by the effects of global change factors and invasive species on the structure and function of the ecosystems selected for study;
  3. Proposed methods to identify and quantify feedback loops and ecological thresholds;
  4. Rationale for the study design and its ability to advance the science and management of invasive species dynamics as affected by global change factors.

The most competitive proposals will involve local governments and/or state environmental managers. Successful applicants will direct their communicative efforts toward the appropriate user community, i.e., State, Tribal, or local agency. These efforts shall include, but are not limited to: disseminating research results, identifying potential research products (i.e., decision support tools, intervention strategies/techniques, etc.) and discussing a strategy for coordinating the demonstration of these tools and techniques to these communities.

Methods of interest include techniques such as integrating theory with results of observations or experimental studies; landscape analyses of species invasions and their associations with biophysical characteristics and global change factors within a given geographic area (sensu Marchetti et al. 2004), modeling and statistical analyses to quantify indirect relationships and feedbacks loops (Puccia and Levins 1985, Krivtsov 2002), and methods to investigate nonlinear responses or threshold changes (Scheffer et al. 2001, Peters et al. 2004, Folke et al. 2004). In addition, proposals are sought that suggest novel ways to test model predictions (Marchetti et al. 2004), new prevention and management strategies (Carpenter et al. 1999), and ways to evaluate the effectiveness of management strategies.

Research results should suggest science-based priorities for managing invasive species at regional to local scales. Desired environmental outcomes include improved ecological resilience and sustained quality of ecosystems and their associated services in the face of global change. Examples of desired research outputs are analytical frameworks and predictive models that suggest management strategies for state and local resource officials. Proposals that demonstrate linkages to decision-support tools for resource managers or suggest methods to document measurable progress toward enhanced ecosystem resilience to invasive species are desired. Proposals that lead either directly or indirectly to management solutions to address an invasive species problem are strongly encouraged.

USDA
Among the predictable consequences of global change is the spread of species into new habitats. It has been estimated that approximately 50,000 species of plants and animals have been introduced into the US, a significant fraction of which cause environmental damage and losses adding up to almost $120 billion per year (Pimentel et al. 2000, Pimentel et al. 2005). Non-indigenous weeds alone cost US agriculture somewhere between $7- 27 billion/yr. (Pimentel et al, 2005). Invasive species threaten biodiversity, habitat quality, and ecosystem function. It is estimated that invasive species have contributed to the decline of 42% of the US endangered and threatened species (Schmitz and Simberloff, 1997). Exotic, invasive species are a particularly prevalent feature of agroecosystems, and are a threat to food and fiber production, the economic costs of which sum to billions of dollars each year. There is concern that invasive species may hasten changes in biogeochemical cycles that may be driving changes in global climate; in turn, changes in climate can affect ecological thresholds that determine the local and regional abundance and distribution of invasive species (IPCC, 2001b). Species that make up a community are unlikely to shift their distributions together. It is more likely that species will respond to changing climate and disturbance regimes individually, with substantial time lags and periods of reorganization. This will disrupt the established ecosystems and create new assemblages of species that may be less diverse and include more “weedy” species, specifically those that are highly mobile and can establish quickly.

The USDA Climate Change Program is interested in research that establishes cause and effect relationships between climate changes and the abundance and distribution of invasive species, and the impact these species have on agroecosystems. Specific areas of interest include:

  1. Interactive effects of climate change, changes in land use and land cover, and the abundance of invasive species;
  2. Interactive effects of climate change and natural resource utilization and management (cultivation and nutrient management regimes, disturbance, etc.) on the abundance and distribution of invasive species.

The program will consider activities that focus on invasive plant and animal species of economic importance to or that may become of importance to, agriculture. The research proposed should be performed within an agricultural setting emphasizing crop production, managed forests, rangeland, or other wildlands of conservation significance. The research should emphasize the impacts of climate change at the individual organism and population level and consider the impacts of the invasive species in terms of community and ecosystem structure and function. The research should bring about an understanding of the complex multiple pressures on agroecosystems that are dependent on climate change and that are brought about by the invasion of non-native species. This should be assessed within the framework of changing regimes of disturbances, climate variability and the ability to adapt to the rate of land cover change. The research could employ a physiological, bioclimatic, population or community or ecosystem perspective, or some combination. Collaborative teams of land managers, atmospheric scientists, weed biologists, population biologists, ecologists, physiologists, biogeochemists, and wildlife managers or those with expertise in simulation modeling and GIS are encouraged to apply. Use of remote sensing and Earth observing systems such as Aquarius, CloudSat, CALIPSO, OCO, and OSTM is also encouraged.

E. References

  1. Ailstock M. S., C. M. Norman, and P. J. Bushmann. 2001. Common Reed Phragmites australis: Control and Effects upon biodiversity in freshwater nontidal wetlands. Restoration Ecology, 9(1): 49-59.
  2. Alexander J. E. Jr., J. H. Thorp, and R. D. Fell. 1994. Turbidity and Temperature Effects on Oxygen Consumption in the Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 51:179-184.
  3. Alpert P., E. Bone, and C. Holzapfel. 2000. Invasiveness, invasibility and the role of environmental stress in the spread of non-native plants. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 3:52-66.
  4. Aseda T. J. M. T. F. a. D. S. 2005. Effects of Salinity and Cutting on the Development of Phragmites australis. Wetlands Ecology and Management, 11:127-140.
  5. Ashton, I. W. 2005. Invasive species accelerate decomposition and litter nitrogen loss in a mixed deciduous forest. Ecological Applications 15:1263-1272.
  6. Barnes W. J. 1999. The rapid growth of a population of reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea L.) and its impact on some river-bottom herbs. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society, 126:133-138.
  7. Byers J. E. 2002. Impact of non-indigenous species on natives enhanced by anthropogenic alteration of selection regimes. Oikos, 97(3):449-458.
  8. Carpenter, S.R., D. Ludwig, and W. Brock. 1999. Management of lakes subject to potentially irreversible change. Ecological Applications, 9(3): 751-771.
  9. Cohen, A. N. and J. T. Carlton. 1998. Accelerating Invasion Rate in a Highly Invaded Estuary. Science, 279:555-558.
  10. Dent, C.L., G.S. Cumming, and S.R. Carpenter. 2002. Multiple states in river and lake ecosystems. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B, 357(1421): 635-645.
  11. deWinton, M.D. and J.S. Clayton. 1996. The impact of invasive submerged weed species on seed banks in lake sediments. Aquatic Botany, 53:31-45.
  12. Dukes, J. S., and H. A. Mooney. 1999. Does global change increase the success of biological invaders? Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 14:135-139.
  13. Folke, C., S. Carpenter, B. Walker, M. Sheffer, T. Elmqvist, L. Gunderson, and C.S. Holling. 2004. Regime shifts, resilience, and biodiversity in ecosystem management. Annual Review in Ecology and Systematics, 35:557-581.
  14. IPCC. 2001b. A Contribution of Working Group II to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In McCarthy, J.J., O.F. Canziani, N.A. Leary, D.J. Dokken, and K.S. White (eds.), Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. 1032 pp. Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, Cambridge University Press.
  15. Krivtsov V. 2004. Investigations of indirect relationships in ecology and environmental sciences: a review and the implications for comparative theoretical ecosystem analysis. Ecological Modeling, 174 (1-2): 37-54.
  16. Lite, S.J. and J.C. Stromberg. 2005. Surface water and ground-water thresholds for maintaining Populus-Salix forests, San Pedro River, Arizona. Biological Conservation, 125(2):153-167.
  17. Marchetti, M.P.,T. Light, P.B. Moyle, and J.H. Viers. 2004. Fish invasions in California watersheds: testing hypotheses using landscape patterns. Ecological Applications, 14(5):1507-1525.
  18. McFarland D. G. a. J. W. B. 1999. High-Temperature Effects on Growth and Propagule Formation in Hydrilla Biotypes. Journal of Aquatic Plant Management, 37:17-25.
  19. Minchinton T. E. 2002. Precipitation during El Nino correlates with increasing spread of Phragmites australis in New England, USA, coastal marshes. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 242:305-309.
  20. Peters, D.P.C., R.A. Pielke, Sr., B.T. Bestelmeyer, C.D. Allen, S. Munson-McGee, and K.M Havstad. 2004. Cross-scale interactions, nonlinearities, and forecasting catastrophic events. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 101 (42):15130-35.
  21. Pimentel, D., L. Lach, R. Zuniga, and D. Morrison. 2000. Environmental and economic costs of nonindigenous species in the United States. BioScience, 50:53-65
  22. Pimentel, D., R. Zuniga, and D. Morrison. 2005. Update on the environmental and economic costs associated with alien-invasive species in the United States. Ecological Economics, 52:273-288.
  23. Puccia, C.J. and R. Levins. 1985. Qualitative Modelling of Complex Systems: An Introduction to Loop Analysis and Time Averaging. Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, MA.
  24. Richardson, D.M., P. Pyek, M. Rejmánek, M.G. Barbour, R.D. Panetta, and C.J. West. 2000. Naturalization and invasion of alien plants: concepts and definitions. Diversity and Distributions, 6:93-107.
  25. Schmitz, Don C. and Daniel Simberloff. 1997. Biological Invasions: A Growing Threat Issues in Science and Technology Online, (http://www.issues.org/13.4/schmit.htm exit EPA).
  26. Shafroth, P.B., J.C. Stromberg, and D.T. Patten. 2002. Riparian vegetation response to altered disturbance and stress regimes. Ecological Applications, 12(1):107-123.
  27. Scheffer, M., S. Carpenter, J.A. Foley, C. Folke, and B. Walker. 2001. Catastrophic shifts in ecosystems. Nature, 413:591-96.
  28. Stachowicz J. J., J. R. Terwin, R. B. Whitlatch, and R. W. Osman. 2000. Linking climate change and biological invasions: Ocean warming facilitates nonindigenous species invasions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 99(24):15497-15500.
  29. Tickner D. P., P. G. Angold, A. M. Gurnell, and J. O. Mountford. 2001. Riparian plant invasions: hydrogeomorphological control and ecological impacts. Progress in Physical Geography, 25(1):22-52.
  30. Weltzin J. F., R T. Belote, and N. J. Sanders. 2003. Biological invaders in a greenhouse world: will elevated CO2 fuel plant invasions? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 1(3):146-153.
  31. Wilcox K.L., S. A. Petrie, L.A. Maynard and S.W. Meyer. 2003. Historical Distribution and Abundance of Phragmites australis at Long Point, Lake Erie, Ontario. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 29(4):664-680.
  32. Zedler, J. and S. Kercher. 2004. Causes and consequences of invasive plants in wetlands: opportunities, opportunists, and outcomes. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, 23(5):431-452.

F. Special Requirements (EPA only)
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. 

The most competitive proposals will involve local governments and/or state environmental managers.  Successful applicants will direct their communicative efforts toward the appropriate user community, i.e., State, Tribal, or local agency.  These efforts shall include, but are not limited to: disseminating research results, identifying potential research products (i.e., decision support tools, intervention strategies/techniques, etc.) and discussing a strategy for coordinating the demonstration of these tools and techniques to these communities.

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

II. AWARD INFORMATION

It is anticipated that a total of approximately $3.9 million will be awarded under this announcement, depending on the availability of funds and the quality of the applications received.  EPA and USDA will commit up to approximately $2.5 million, and up to $1.4 million, respectively.  A total of approximately 8 grants or cooperative agreements are anticipated for funding.

EPA
The EPA anticipates funding approximately 5 grants or cooperative agreements under this RFA. Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $600,000, including direct and indirect costs, will not be considered. The total project period for an application submitted in response to this RFA may not exceed 3 years. The EPA reserves the right to reject all applications and make no awards, or make fewer awards than anticipated under this RFA.  The EPA reserves the right, consistent with agency policy and without further competition, to make additional awards under this RFA if additional funding becomes available. Any additional selections for awards will be made no later than 4 months after the original selection decisions.

EPA may fund both grants and cooperative agreements under this announcement. Under a grant, EPA scientists and engineers are not permitted to be substantially involved in the execution of the 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 the institution’s 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.

USDA
USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service anticipates funding 3 grants or cooperative agreements under this announcement, depending on availability of funds. Projected awards are anticipated to be in the range of $100,000-200,000 per year for 2-4 years. Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $600,000, including direct and indirect costs, will not be considered. The total project period for an application submitted in response to this RFA may not exceed 4 years.

Applicants selected for USDA funding will be required to submit forms and documents as detailed in “A Guide for Preparation and Submission of Paper-based Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service Applications.” All awards made from USDA will be limited to an indirect costs cap of 20% of total direct and indirect costs, or 25% of total direct costs.  Revised budgets will be solicited if these guidelines are not met by an application to be awarded by USDA-CSREES.

III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

A. Eligible Applicants
EPA

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 grants from the EPA under this program.

Eligible nonprofit organizations include any organizations that meet the definition of nonprofit in OMB Circular A-122. However, nonprofit organizations described in Section 501(c) (4) of the Internal Revenue Code that lobby are not eligible to apply.

National laboratories funded by Federal Agencies (Federally-Funded Research and Development Centers, “FFRDCs”) may not apply. FFRDC employees may cooperate or collaborate with eligible applicants within the limits imposed by applicable legislation and regulations. They may participate in planning, conducting, and analyzing the research directed by the applicant, but must 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 (barnwell.thomas@epa.gov) in NCER, phone 202-343-9862.

USDA
Except where otherwise prohibited by law, State agricultural experiment stations, all colleges and universities, other research institutions and organizations, Federal agencies, national laboratories, public and private organizations or corporations, and individuals are eligible to apply for and to receive a competitive grant through the National Research Initiative of the CSREES.

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

C. Other

General
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 or project period limits described herein 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, to be eligible for funding consideration, a project’s focus must consist of activities within the statutory terms of EPA’s or USDA’s financial assistance authorities; specifically, the statute(s) listed in I.C. above. 

EPA only

Generally, to meet EPA’s eligibility requirements, 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.  These activities should relate to the gathering or transferring of information or advancing the state of knowledge.  Proposals should emphasize this “learning” concept, as opposed to “fixing” an environmental problem via a well-established method.  Proposals relating to other topics which are sometimes included within the term “environment” such as recreation, conservation, restoration, protection of wildlife habitats, etc., must describe the relationship of these topics to the statutorily required purpose of pollution prevention and/or control.

Successful proposals must address how global change factors, as defined for this solicitation, do all of the following:

  • affect the establishment, abundance, and distribution of invasive species, including causing nonnative species to become invasive and the mechanisms by which these changes occur; 
  • interact with invasive species to create feedbacks that further promote successful biological invasions or trigger threshold responses in linked aquatic-terrestrial ecosystems;
  • affect current management of invasive species, such that methods and protocols may need to be altered to protect or restore ecosystem services and integrity.

In addition, successful proposals must describe the following:

  1. Hypothesized relationship between global change factors and invasive species, including a description of how the global change factors to be investigated exacerbate existing patterns of biological invasions;
  2. Ecosystem services known, or hypothesized, to be impaired by the effects of global change factors and invasive species on the structure and function of the ecosystems selected for study;
  3. Proposed methods to identify and quantify feedback loops and ecological thresholds;
  4. Rationale for the study design and its ability to advance the science and management of invasive species dynamics as affected by global change factors.

Applications deemed ineligible for funding consideration will be notified within fifteen 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 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 Grants.gov (see “Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications”).  Note: With the exception of the Budget form (available at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms), all necessary forms are included in the electronic application package.

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; emails to this address will not be accepted.  If you do not receive an email acknowledgment within 30 days of the submission closing date, immediately inform the Eligibility Contact shown 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 Standard Form 424. 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.

    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.

  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.

  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 EPA funding will be posted on the NCER web site.

    The abstract should include the information described below (a-h). Examples of abstracts for current grants may be found on the NCER web site.

    1. Funding Opportunity Title and Number for this proposal.
    2. Project 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 and Location: Show the proposed project beginning and ending dates and the geographical location(s) where the work will be conducted.
    6. Project Cost: Show the total dollars requested (include direct and indirect costs for all years).
    7. Project Summary: Provide three subsections addressing: (1) the objectives of the study (including any hypotheses that will be tested), (2) the experimental approach to be used (a description of the proposed project), and (3) 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 may be found at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms.
  5. Research Plan, Quality Assurance Statement and References
    1. Research Plan (15 pages)

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

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

      The description must provide the following information:

      1. Objectives: List the objectives of the proposed research and the hypotheses being tested during the project, and briefly state why the intended research is important and how it fulfills the requirements of the solicitation. This section should also include any background or introductory information that would help explain the objectives of the study. If this application is to expand upon 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).
      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, USDA and peer reviewers understand the merits of the research (one to two pages recommended).
      4. General Project Information: Discuss other information relevant to the potential success of the project. This should include facilities, personnel expertise/experience, project schedules, proposed management, interactions with other institutions, etc. Applications for multi-investigator projects must identify project management and the functions of each investigator in each team and describe plans to communicate and share data (one to two pages recommended).
      5. Appendices may be included but must remain within the 15-page limit.
    2. Quality Assurance Statement (1 to 3 pages in addition to the 15-page research plan)

      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, representation, 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 15-page research plan)

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

    4. References: References cited are in addition to the 15-page Research Plan limit.
  6. Budget and Budget Justification
    1. Budget

      Prepare a budget table using the guidance and form found at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/, and select "All required forms." If a subaward, such as a subagreement with an educational institution, is greater than $25,000 and is included in the application, provide a separate budget and budget justification for the subaward. Include the total amount for the subaward under "Other" in the master budget. Any project containing subawards or subcontracts that constitute more than 40% of the total direct cost of the application will be subject to special review. Additional justification for use of these must be provided, discussing the need for the subaward/subcontract to accomplish the objectives of the research project. (For awards made by the CSREES, all subcontracts will require separate budgets and budget justifications. Subcontract budgets will be solicited if these are not contained in applications to USDA-CSREES).

      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, not including additions under Nos. (6) and (7) below to support contracts and subawards]

      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, paying particular attention to travel outside the United States. For EPA awards, include travel funds for annual STAR program progress reviews (estimate for two days in Washington, D.C.) 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). Specifically identify computers to be purchased or upgraded.
      6. Contractual: Identify each proposed contract for services/analyses or consultants and specify its purpose and estimated cost. Contracts greater than $25,000 must have a separate itemized budget and budget justification, not to exceed one additional page each, included as part of the application.
      7. Other:

        EPA

        List each item in sufficient detail for the EPA to determine the reasonableness of its cost relative to the research to be undertaken. Note that subawards, such as those with other universities for members of the research team, are included in this category. Subawards greater than $25,000 must have a separate itemized budget and budget justification, not to exceed one additional page each, included as part of the application.

        USDA

        Please note that the CSREES will require budgets for all subcontracts for proposals they select for awards. In addition, if consulting, collaborative arrangements, or subcontractual arrangements are included in the application, these arrangements should be fully explained and justified, including the rate of pay for any consultant if known at the time of application. For each arrangement involving the transfer of substantive programmatic work or the provision of financial assistance to a third party, a proposed statement of work, vita, a budget and narrative must be supplied).

      8. Indirect Costs:

        EPA

        If indirect costs are included in the budget, indicate the approved rate and base with an explanation of how the indirect costs were calculated.

        USDA

        For proposals selected for funding by the CSREES, Section 709 of the FY 2006 Consolidated Appropriations Act (Public Law 109- 97) limits indirect costs to 20 percent of the total Federal funds provided under each award. Therefore, when preparing budgets, applicants selected for funding by the CSREES may need to recalculate budgets in order to limit their requests for recovery of indirect costs to the lesser of their institution's official negotiated indirect cost rate or the equivalent of 20 percent of total Federal funds awarded. Another method of calculating the maximum allowable is 25 percent of the total direct costs.

  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

    Complete a current and pending support form (provided at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms) for each investigator and important co-worker. Include all supported research.

  9. Guidelines, Limitations, and Additional Requirements
    1. Letters of Intent/Letters of Support

      Letters of intent to provide resources for the proposed research or to document 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 15-page Research Plan limit.

      Note: Letters of intent or support must be part of the application; letters submitted separately will not be accepted.

    2. Funding Opportunity Number(s) (FON)

      At various places in the application, applicants are asked to identify the FON. Applicants must select the FON corresponding to their proposed research topic area. It is the responsibility of the applicant to identify the proper FON 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 FON, choose the most appropriate one. For electronic submissions, use the appropriate electronic application package for the chosen FON (see "Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications"). Each application must be submitted using a single FON.

      The Funding Opportunity Numbers for this RFA are:

      • Aquatic Ecosystems, EPA-G2007-STAR-H1
      • Terrestrial Ecosystems, EPA-G2007-STAR-H2
    3. 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 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 or portions of applications they claim as confidential. If no claim of confidentiality is made, the EPA is not required to make an inquiry to the applicant as otherwise required by 40 CFR 2.204(c) (2) prior to disclosure.

C. Submission Dates and Times
For paper copy submissions, the original and two (2) copies of the complete application (3 in all, see E. below) 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.  Applications received after the closing date and time will be returned to the sender without further consideration.

It should be noted that this schedule may be changed without prior notification because of factors not anticipated at the time of announcement.  In the case of a change in the 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.

Solicitation Closing Date: June 26, 2007, 4:00 pm Eastern Time for paper applications, 4:00 pm Eastern Time for electronic submissions

D. Funding Restrictions
The funding mechanism for all awards issued under this STAR solicitation will consist of assistance agreements from the EPA or USDA.  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.

Each proposed project must be able to be completed within the project period and with the initial award of funds.  Applicants should request the entire amount of money needed to complete the project.  Recipients should not anticipate additional funding beyond the initial award of funds for a specific project.

E. Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements
You may submit either a paper application or an electronic application (but not both) under 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. 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: (applicant: place the appropriate number here)
    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: (applicant: place the appropriate number here)
    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. Note: With the exception of the Budget form (available at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms), all necessary forms are included in the electronic application package. In order to view the application package, download the PureEdge viewer (click on “Apply for Grants”, then see “Apply Step 1”). The application package may be quickly accessed from https://apply.grants.gov/forms_apps_idx.html using the appropriate FON. Be sure to download the electronic application package for the appropriate FON. Please register for announcement change notification emails.

      The electronic submission of your application package must be made by an official representative of your institution who is registered with Grants.gov and authorized to sign for Federal assistance. For more information, go to http://www.grants.gov and click on “Get Registered”. Note that the registration process may take a week or longer to complete. If your organization is not currently registered with Grants.gov, please encourage your office to designate an Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) and begin the registration process as soon as possible. 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.

    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 inform the Eligibility Contact shown in this solicitation. Failure to do so may result in your application not being reviewed.
    3. Application Package Preparation. The application package consists of 1 though 4 below.
      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. Note: Applicants do not need to complete the “Competition ID” field.
      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. Project Narrative Attachment Form (click on “Add Mandatory Project Narrative”): Attach a single electronic file labeled “Application” that contains the items contained in Section IV.B.4. through IV.B.9.a of this solicitation. This file must be submitted in Adobe Acrobat PDF. Please review the PDF 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. If Key Contacts Continuation pages (see http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms) are needed, place them before the Abstract (IV.B.4.).

      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). 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.

    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. 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. For documentation purposes, print this acknowledgement using “Print Screen.” 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. If transmission difficulties that result in a late transmission, no transmission, or rejection of the transmitted application are experienced, follow the guidance below. NCER may decide to review the application if it is clearly demonstrated that these transmission difficulties were due solely as a result of problems associated with the transfer to Grants.gov. The decision regarding acceptance of the application for review will be made by NCER management and provided to the applicant within ten working days of the request. All e-mails, as described below, are to be sent to Thomas O'Farrell (o'farrell.thomas@epa.gov) with the FON in the subject line.
      1. Late transfer due to electronic submission problems: Should electronic submission problems result in the application being transferred to Grants.gov after 4:00 pm but before 5:00pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date, send an e-mail documenting the problem and include the Grants.gov “case number”.
      2. Unsuccessful transfer of application package: If a successful transfer of the application cannot be accomplished due to electronic submission issues, send an e-mail before 5:00pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date. Document the problem, include the Grants.gov “case number,” and attach the entire application.
      3. Grants.gov rejection of application: If a notification is received from Grants.gov stating that the application has been rejected for reasons other than late submittal, immediately send an email which includes any materials provided by Grants.gov with the entire application attached.

V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION

A. Peer Review

The peer review procedures described herein apply to all submissions.

All eligible grant applications are reviewed by an appropriate external technical peer review panel comprised of individual experts using the criteria below.  This review is designed to evaluate each application according to its scientific merit.  Each peer review panel includes non-agency 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. 

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 research area.  Does the proposal adequately address the objectives and special considerations specified by the RFA?
  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. Programmatic Review

EPA

Applications for EPA funding receiving 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.

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 and reporting history 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 required for each agreement is shown below, and must be provided within two weeks of EPA's request.  A maximum of three pages will be permitted for the response; excess pages will not be reviewed.  Note: If no prior past performance information and/or reporting history exists, you will be asked to so state.

  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.  Include the history of submitting timely progress/final technical reports, describe how progress towards achieving the expected results was reported/documented, and if such progress was not being made, provide 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 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.

The internal programmatic review panel will assess:

  1. The relevance of the proposed science to EPA research priorities.
  2. 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 and/or reporting history, or for whom this information is not available, will be evaluated neither favorably nor unfavorably on these elements.
  3. The applicant’s organizational experience.

USDA

USDA will convene an internal review panel, composed of CSREES National Program Leaders involved in management of research programs in Natural Resources that will evaluate applications for USDA funding that have been rated “excellent” or “very good” by the independent peer review panel. The evaluation procedure will center around USDA’s mission and priorities.

C. Funding Decisions

EPA

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.

USDA

For USDA applications, the CSREES Administrator as designated by the Secretary of Agriculture will make final funding decisions.

VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

A. Award Notices
General

Customarily, applicants are notified about evaluation 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.

Applicants to be 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 or CSREES National Program Leaders will contact Principal Investigators to obtain these materials.  Before or after an award, applicants may be required to provide additional quality assurance documentation.

EPA

Non-profit applicants that are recommended for funding under this announcement are subject to pre-award administrative capability reviews consistent with Section 8b., 8c. and 9d. of EPA Order 5700.8 - Policy on Assessing Capabilities of Non-Profit Applicants for Managing Assistance Awards (http://www.epa.gov/ogd/grants/award/5700_8.pdf (9 pp, 31 K, about PDF)). In addition, non-profit applicants that qualify for funding may, depending on the size of the award, be required to fill out and submit to the Grants Management Office the Administrative Capabilities Form with supporting documents contained in Appendix A of EPA Order 5700.8.

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 to 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. 

USDA

The award document will provide pertinent instructions and information shall include at a minimum the following:

  1. Legal name and address of performing organization or institution to which the Administrator has awarded a grant under the terms of this RFA;
  2. Title of project;
  3. Name(s) and institution(s) of PDs chosen to direct and control approved activities;
  4. Identifying grant number assigned by the Department;
  5. Project period, specifying the amount of time the Department intends to support the project without requiring recompetition for funds;
  6. Total amount of Departmental financial assistance approved by the Administrator during the project period;
  7. Legal authority(ies) under which the grant is awarded;
  8. Appropriate Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number;
  9. Applicable award terms and conditions (see http://www.csrees.usda.gov/business/awards/awardterms.html) to view CSREES award terms and conditions);
  10. Approved budget plan for categorizing allocable project funds to accomplish the stated purpose of the grant award; and
  11. Other information or provisions deemed necessary by CSREES to carry out its respective granting activities or to accomplish the purpose of a particular grant.

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

EPA

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 a significant change from the 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 applicant 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. For observational studies involving children or pregnant women or nursing mothers please refer to Subparts B & D of 40 C.F.R. § 26. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulations at 45 CFR § 46.101(e) have long required "... compliance with pertinent Federal laws or regulations which provide additional protection for human subjects." EPA’s regulation 40 C.F.R Part 26 is such a pertinent Federal regulation. Therefore, the applicant's Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval must state that the applicant's study meets the EPA's regulations at 40 CFR § 26. No work involving human subjects, including recruiting, may be initiated before the EPA has received a copy of the applicant’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 or 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.

    USDA

    For USDA-CSREES, several Federal statutes and regulations apply to grant applications considered for review and to project grants awarded under this program. These include, but are not limited to:
    7 CFR Part 1, subpart A—USDA implementation of the Freedom of Information Act.
    7 CFR Part 3—USDA debt collection regulations.
    7 CFR Part 15, subpart A—USDA implementation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.
    7 CFR Part 331 and 9 CFR Part 121—USDA implementation of the Agricultural Bioterrorism Protection Act of 2002.
    7 CFR Part 3015—USDA Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations, implementing OMB directives (i.e. OMB Circular Nos. A-21 and A-122) and incorporating provisions of 31 U.S.C. 6301-6308 (formerly the Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act of 1977, Pub. L. No. 95-224), as well as general policy requirements applicable to recipients of Departmental financial assistance.
    7 CFR Part 3017—USDA implementation of Government wide Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement) and Government wide Requirements for Drug-Free Workplace (Grants).
    7 CFR Part 3018—USDA implementation of Restrictions on Lobbying. Imposes prohibitions and requirements for disclosure and certification related to lobbying on recipients of Federal contracts, grants, cooperative agreements, and loans.
    7 CFR Part 3019—USDA implementation of OMB Circular No. A-110, Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Other Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Nonprofit Organizations.
    7 CFR Part 3052—USDA implementation of OMB Circular No. A-133, Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-profit Organizations.
    7 CFR Part 3407—CSREES procedures to implement the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended.
    29 U.S.C. 794 (section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973) and 7 CFR Part 15b (USDA implementation of statute)—prohibiting discrimination based upon physical or mental handicap in Federally assisted programs.
    35 U.S.C. 200 et seq.—Bayh-Dole Act, controlling allocation of rights to inventions made by employees of small business firms and domestic nonprofit organizations, including universities, in Federally assisted programs (implementing regulations are contained in 37 CFR Part 401).

  6. Reporting:

    General

    A grant recipient must agree to provide copies of any peer reviewed journal article(s) resulting from the research during the project period to the granting agency. In addition, the recipient should notify the EPA Project Officer or CSREES National Program Leader 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.

    EPA

    A grant recipient must agree to provide annual progress reports, with associated summaries, and a final report with an executive summary. The summaries will be posted on NCER’s website.

    USDA

    CSREES grantees are required to submit annual and summary evaluation reports via the CSREES Current Research Information System (CRIS). CRIS is an electronic, Web-based inventory system that facilitates both grantee submissions of project outcomes and public access to information on Federally-funded projects. If a project is funded by CSREES, beginning in the first year of funding, the project director will be required to attend annual investigator meetings. Reasonable travel expenses should be included as part of the project budget.

  7. Acknowledgement of Support:

    EPA

    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 this graphic in oral and poster presentations.

    USDA

    Proper acknowledgement of CSREES funding in published manuscripts, presentations and press releases is critical for the success of the agency’s programs. Please use the following language to acknowledge CSREES support in your manuscripts, as appropriate:

    The project was supported by the National Research Initiative of the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, grant number #.

    Use of the CSREES logo for the acknowledgement slide of your powerpoint presentations or posters at meetings is also encouraged. This graphic can be obtained from the CSREES National Program Leader contact for the award.

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 (barnwell.thomas@epa.gov); phone: 202-343-9862
Electronic Submissions: Thomas O'Farrell (o'farrell.thomas@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8085
USDA Technical Contact: Nancy Cavallaro (ncavallaro@csrees.usda.gov); phone: 202-401-5176
EPA Technical Contact: Brandon Jones (jones.brandon@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8053

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