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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

Exploratory Research: Nanotechnology Research Grants Investigating Fate, Transport, Transformation, and Exposure of Engineered Nanomaterials: A Joint Research Solicitation - EPA, NSF, & DOE

This is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity.

Funding Opportunity Number:

  1. EPA-G2007-STAR-R1 Environmental and biological fate, transport, and transformation
  2. EPA-G2007-STAR-R2 Human exposure/bioavailability

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: EPA: 66.509, NSF: 47.041, DOE: 81.049

Solicitation Opening Date: May 21, 2007
Solicitation Closing Date: August 22, 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
Technical Contacts: Nora Savage (savage.nora@epa.gov), Environmental Protection Agency; phone: 703-347-8104
Cynthia J. Ekstein (cekstein@nsf.gov), National Science Foundation; phone: 703-292-7941
Daniel Drell (daniel.drell@science.doe.gov), Department of Energy; phone: 301-903-4742;

Table of Contents:
SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
Synopsis of Program
Award Information
Eligibility Information
Application Materials
Agency Contacts
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 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Research and Development (ORD) as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program; the National Science Foundation (NSF); and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science are seeking proposals for research dealing with the potential implications of nanotechnology and engineered nanomaterials on human health and the environment. In an effort to stimulate international research in the area of engineered nanomaterials, U.S. researchers are encouraged to collaborate with European researchers.  Research areas include: the fate, transport and transformation of nanomaterials; and bioavailability and exposure of humans and other species to nanomaterials.

Award Information:
Anticipated Type of Award: Grant or Cooperative Agreement
Estimated Number of Awards: Approximately 30
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $10 million total for all awards. EPA’s estimated funding amount is approximately $6 million, DOE’s estimated funding amount is approximately $3 million, and NSF’s estimated funding amount is approximately $1 million.
Potential Funding per Award: Up to a total of $400,000, including direct and indirect costs, with a maximum duration of 3 years.  Cost-sharing is not required.  Proposals with budgets exceeding the total award limits will not be considered.

Although the financial plans of EPA, DOE, and NSF provide support for this program, awards pursuant to this Request for Proposals (RFA) will be made to US researchers only and are contingent upon the availability of funds and the receipt of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.

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. 

NSF
For-profit or nonprofit organizations; public or private institutions, such as universities, colleges, hospitals, and laboratories; units of state and local governments; eligible agencies of the Federal government; domestic institutions/organizations only; faith-based community-based organizations; Federally Recognized Indian Tribes, Tribal Governments, Colleges, and/or Organizations are eligible to apply.

DOE
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, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs), and U.S. territories or possessions are eligible to apply. 

See full announcement for more details.

Application Materials:
You may submit either a paper application or an electronic application (but not both) for this announcement. The necessary forms 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.

Agency Contacts:
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
Technical Contacts: Nora Savage (savage.nora@epa.gov), Environmental Protection Agency; phone: 703-347-8104
Cynthia J. Ekstein (cekstein@nsf.gov), National Science Foundation; phone: 703-292-7941
Daniel Drell (daniel.drell@science.doe.gov), Department of Energy; phone: 301-903-4742;

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

A. Introduction
One of the high-priority research areas identified by the EPA Office of Research and Development (ORD) is nanotechnology. International collaborations are critical in this emerging area to enable a more integrated and comprehensive approach to understanding the impact engineered nanomaterials may have on humans and ecosystems.  The purpose of this collaborative research program is to strengthen the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA), the National Science Foundation’s (NSF), Engineering Directorate, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE), Office of Science support of research on the potential implications of nanotechnology and engineered nanomaterials on human health and the environment. The sponsors of this RFA are particularly interested in supporting research related to engineered nanomaterials in any of the following areas: (1) environmental and biological fate, transport, and transformation; and (2) human exposure/bioavailability.

EPA supports research to meet its mission of protecting human health and the environment. Research solicited under this request for applications (RFA) will be used by the engineering and scientific community in risk assessment, specifically in hazard identification and exposure assessment. EPA is interested in funding research on the possible risks and exposure routes of newly produced chemicals and materials at the nanoscale.

Information regarding the EPA’s research interests can be found in the Nanotechnology White Paper located at: http://www.epa.gov/osa/nanotech.htm. In addition, information on current Agency extramural nanotechnology research can be found on ORD’s National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) web site at www.epa.gov/ncer/nano.

NSF supports research to help meet its mission, i.e., “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense.” Information resulting from this solicitation will be used to assist and enable the engineering and scientific communities to advance the frontiers of research, innovation, and education. The research should focus on emerging and potentially transformative ideas, and application of new expertise or new approaches to “established” topics. Information on NSF and nanotechnology research can be found at: http://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/nano/.

DOE’s mission is to support fundamental science that supports the exploration of technologies to develop new and alternative sources of energy for the nation. The Office of Biological and Environmental Research focuses on the biological controls of environmental processes that are critical to the success of a broad range of DOE mission areas, such as energy, environmental remediation and carbon cycling/sequestration. Research supported under this RFA should focus on developing new understandings of nanophases and nanoparticulates relevant to these missions.  To this end and in particular, research on nanoparticles and nanomaterials that could find application in energy technologies, possibly including the use of chemically inert nanoparticles as environmental tracers is solicited. From a DOE perspective, investigating the impact and risk of nanomaterials in the environment requires understanding both the critical characteristics of newly developed engineered nanomaterials as well as the baseline characteristics of existing engineered nanoscale substances in the environment that may be potentially harmful. The DOE is particularly interested in furthering the understanding of the role(s) that nanophase structures/particles may have on controlling the fate and transport of radionuclide and heavy metal contaminants in groundwater and surface water systems. The DOE is also interested in technological by-products, at the nanoscale, of energy, remediation, or carbon cycling technologies that have never previously been appreciated for their significance but which may have become prevalent in the environment since before the advent of nanotechnology.  Information on DOE and nanotechnology research can be found at: http://www.energy.gov/sciencetech/nanotechnology.htm.

In an effort to stimulate international research in the area of engineered nanomaterials, U.S. researchers are encouraged to collaborate with European researchers.

B. Background
Nanotechnology has been defined by the Interagency Subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology (NSET) of the Federal Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) as follows: “...the understanding and control of matter at dimensions of roughly 1 to 100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications. Encompassing nanoscale science, engineering and technology, nanotechnology involves imaging, measuring, modeling, and manipulating matter at this length scale.” (See http://www.nano.gov for more information)

Many companies are currently involved in the manufacture of nanoscale materials which are used in a wide range of products, such as sunscreens, composites, sporting equipment, and catalysts. According to data collected by the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), the quantity of nanoscale materials engineered by various industries is expected to grow significantly within the next 8 to 10 years. (see Mihail Roco, “Nanotechnology’s Future,” Scientific American, 24 July 2006, 7 Oct. 2006, http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=00029E0B-34C6-14C0-AFE483414B7F4945&sc=I100322 exit EPA)

There is currently insufficient information about the human health and environmental impacts of engineered nanomaterials, e.g., nanoparticles, nanotubes, nanowires, fullerene derivatives, and other nanoscale materials. Environmental and other safety concerns about nanotechnology have been raised and a variety of research needs identified (see reference #4). This solicitation requests research proposals which address potential health and environmental concerns of nanomaterials using the best science available to support EPA's mission to protect human health and the environment, NSF’s mission to promote the progress of science and national welfare, and DOE’s mission to support fundamental science that supports the exploration of technologies to develop new and alternative sources of energy for the nation.

In the case of nanomaterials, size matters; the small size might result in different effects than might be observed for bulk or larger scale materials. Potentially harmful effects might arise as a result of the properties of the nanomaterials themselves or the products made from them, as well as through the manufacturing process involved. The increased surface area, morphology, small size, and enhanced reactivity of some nanomaterials will affect transport properties within the environment and may lead to harmful interactions with cellular material.

Little is known about the fate, transport, transformation, and exposure of nanosized materials, particularly after they enter the environment. As the production of engineered nanomaterials increases and as products containing engineered nanomaterials are produced, used, recycled, or disposed of, these materials could have harmful effects on the ecosystem. Unknowns include: to what extent nanomaterials bioaccumulate, whether they pose unique risks to human health and the environment through biomagnification along the food chain, and what exposures might occur. Unique characteristics of nanophase and nanoparticulate transport, bioavailability and potential human interactions and how they can be distinguished from background environmental influences are of particular interest. Nanomaterials in this context include nanophase particles, nanocomposites and mineral surface-coatings that have unique transport and/or reactive properties that are distinct from the bulk phase material and which might pose a risk to humans and/or the environment. Understanding fate, transport, chemical transformations and human exposure pathways will require understanding the environmental controls on nanophase material stability for anthropogenic products (both old and new), and how biological systems access chemical species differently in nanophase materials than in common bulk or dissolved phases.

The specific Strategic Goal and Objective from the 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 http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/plan/2006/entire_report.pdf (PDF) (184 pp, 11.56 MB, about PDF).

C. Authority and Regulations
EPA’s authorities for this RFA and resulting awards are contained in the Safe Drinking Water Act, Section 1442, 42 U.S.C. 300j-1; Clean Water Act, Section 104, 33 U.S.C.; Toxic Substances Control Act, Section 10, 15 U.S.C. 2609; and the Clean Air Act, Section 103, 42 U.S.C. 7403. For research with an international aspect, the above statutes are supplemented, as appropriate, by the National Environmental Policy Act, Section 102 (2)(F).

DOE awards are made under the authorization 10 CFR Part 605 (http://www.science.doe.gov/grants/605index.html). Under this part of the Code of Federal Regulations, DOE may issue, under the Office of Energy Research (now the Office of Science) Financial Assistance Program, awards for basic and applied research, educational/training activities, conferences, and other related activities under the Office of Science program areas (http://www.science.doe.gov/grants/progdesc.html).

D. Specific Research Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes
Note to applicant:  The term “output” means an environmental activity or effort, and associated work products, related to a specific environmental goal(s), (e.g., testing a new methodology), that will be produced or developed over a period of time under the agreement. The term “outcome” means the result, effect, or consequence that will occur from the above activit(ies) that is related to an environmental, behavioral, or health-related objective.

The RFA sponsors are particularly interested in supporting research related to engineered nanomaterials in any of the following areas: (1) environmental and biological fate, transport, and transformation of engineered nanomaterials and (2) human exposure/bioavailability.

  1. Environmental and biological fate, transport, and transformation of engineered nanomaterials

    Information about fate, transport, and transformation is necessary to estimate exposure to engineered nanomaterials. Relevant research questions might include but are not limited to:

    • By what means do (can) engineered nanomaterials enter the environment?
    • What are the modes of dispersion/aggregation for nanomaterials in the environment?
    • Do engineered nanoparticles undergo transformation in the environment?
    • How do nanomaterials transfer from one media to another?

    Relevant goals of this research include increasing scientific knowledge on the partitioning of nanomaterials in various media and increased data on movement and transformation capacities. Unique characteristics of nanophase and nanoparticulate transport, bioavailability and potential human interactions and how they can be distinguished from background environmental influences are of particular significance. Outputs may include providing researchers with critical information concerning the fate of engineered nanomaterials and progress review and other workshops geared towards increasing the collaboration and coordination of environmental research on engineered nanomaterials at both national and international levels. Outcomes include the enhancement of environmental protection through the increased availability of important fate and transport data on these materials and increased knowledge gained concerning the fate, transport, and transformation of engineered nanomaterials as they enter and move through various ecosystems.

  2. Human exposure and bioavailability

    How humans and other living organisms may be exposed to engineered nanomaterials that enter the environment is a critical research need. When and in what form such exposures may occur are not known, nor are the organism level responses to nanoparticulates or other nanophase materials. However, if there is no exposure, there are no health risks. Relevant research questions might include but are not limited to:

    • When might relevant exposures occur?
    • Upon exposure, in what form is the engineered nanomaterial – physical, chemical, morphological?
    • What forms of nanomaterials are bioavailable?
    • Are some subpopulations more vulnerable to nanomaterial exposure?
    • Are more toxic metabolites formed in biological systems?
    • What are the exposure pathways for humans?
    • How can exposures be quantified? Do engineered nanoparticles bioaccumulate through the food chain?
    • How are nanomaterials translocated from one organ to another?

    Relevant goals of this research include providing scientific information concerning the potential effects on the ecosystem of engineered nanomaterials that may initially impact one or more organisms and improved data on biotransformation, ecotoxicity, bioaccumulation and bioavailability capacities.

    Outputs may include providing researchers with scientific data on exposure of living systems and the environment to engineered nanomaterials, critical information concerning the potential effect upon ecosystems of engineered nanomaterials and progress review and other workshops geared towards increasing the collaboration and coordination of environmental research on engineered nanomaterials at both national and international levels.  Outcomes include enhanced environmental protection through the increased availability of important exposure, fate, transport, transformation, and life cycle data on these materials. Additional outcomes of this research would include gaining insight into the type, extent and timing of exposure. In addition, the scientific community will gain increased knowledge into the exposure patterns of nanomaterials.

E. References

  1. United States, National Science and Technology Council, Environmental, Health, and Safety Research Needs for Engineered Nanoscale Materials (Washington: Office of Science and Technology Policy, 2006). http://www.nano.gov/NNI_EHS_research_needs.pdf (PDF) (80 pp, 1.06 MB, about PDF)
  2. United States, National Science and Technology Council, Research and Development Leading to a Revolution in Technology and Industry: Supplement to the President’s FY 2007 Budget (Washington, Office of Science and Technology Policy, 2006) http://nano.gov/NNI_07Budget.pdf (PDF) (76 pp, 1.12 MB, about PDF)
  3. Andrew Maynard, et al. Safe Handling of Nanotechnology. Nature 16 Nov: 267 (2006).
  4. Andrew Maynard, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, Nanotechnology: A Research Strategy for Addressing Risk July 2006: 35.
  5. United States, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Strategic Plan for NIOSH Nanotechnology Research: Filling the Knowledge Gaps  (Washington, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sept. 2005)
  6. Oberdörster G, Oberdörster E, Oberdörster J. Nanotoxicology: An Emerging Discipline Evolving from Studies of Ultrafine Particles. Environ. Health Perspect. doi:10.1289/ehp.7339, (2005).
  7. The Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. Nanoscience and nanotechnologies:  Opportunities and uncertainties. London, July 2004, pp. 26-7, available online at www.nanotec.org.uk/finalReport.htm exit EPA.
  8. Oberdorster G, et al. Principles for Characterizing the Potential Human Health Effects from Exposure to Nanomaterials: Elements of a Screening Strategy. Particle and Fibre Toxicology 2-8, 10.1186/1743-8977(2005). http://www.particleandfibretoxicology.com/content/2/1/8 exit EPA

F. Special Requirements
Agency policy prevents EPA technical staff and managers from providing individual applicants information that may create an unfair competitive advantage. Consequently, EPA employees will not review, comment, advise, and/or provide technical assistance to applicants preparing applications in response to EPA RFAs, nor will they endorse an application or discuss in any manner how the Agency will apply the published evaluation criteria for this competition.

Because the manufacturing of nanomaterials is not currently widespread and nomenclature is not standard, researchers must indicate in their proposals which nanomaterials they will use and where they will obtain them, including any needed collaboration with a materials manufacturing corporation or research lab that is synthesizing a commercially viable material. Thus, in the proposal, information on the source, potential use, composition, and present or future availability of the material being studied should be included. Researchers must appropriately characterize all engineered nanomaterials used in the study. Researchers are encouraged to explore the availability of special nanotechnology user facilities at the Department of Energy (http://www.nano.gov/html/centers/DOEcenters.html), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (http://www.nano.gov/html/centers/NISTcenters.html), and the NSF, under the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network program (http://www.nnin.org/).

II. AWARD INFORMATION

It is anticipated that a total of approximately $10 million will be awarded under this announcement, depending on the availability of funds and quality of applications received. EPA’s estimated funding amount is approximately $6 million, DOE’s estimated funding amount is approximately $3 million, and NSF’s estimated funding amount is approximately $1 million. The EPA anticipates funding approximately 15 grants or cooperative agreements, DOE anticipates funding approximately 12 grants, and NSF anticipates funding approximately 2 grants under this RFA. Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $400,000, including direct and indirect costs, will not be considered. The total project period requested in an application submitted for 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 to make additional awards under this announcement, consistent with Agency policy, if additional funding becomes available after the original selections are made. Any additional selections for awards will be made no later than four months after the original selection decisions. The DOE is under no obligation to pay for any costs associated with the preparation or submission of an application or proposal. The DOE reserves the right to fund, in whole or in part, any, all or none of the applications or proposals submitted in response to this solicitation.

EPA may award 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 may award 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 may not identify EPA cooperators or interactions; specific interactions between EPA’s investigators and those of the prospective recipient for cooperative agreements will be negotiated at the time of award.

III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

A. Eligible Applicants

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 assistance agreements from the EPA under this program.

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

National laboratories funded by Federal Agencies (Federally-Funded Research and Development Centers, “FFRDCs”) may not apply. FFRDC employees may cooperate or collaborate with eligible applicants within the limits imposed by applicable legislation and regulations. They may participate in planning, conducting, and analyzing the research directed by the applicant, but may not direct projects on behalf of the applicant organization. The institution, organization, or governance receiving the award may provide funds through its assistance agreement 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 an assistance agreement, and may not receive salaries or augment their Agency’s appropriations in other ways through awards made under 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.

DOE

In addition to the institutions eligible for EPA funding (above), Department of Energy Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs), including DOE National Laboratories, may apply (see companion notice, LAB 07-27 at http://www.science.doe.gov/grants/LAB07_27.html).

NSF

For-profit or nonprofit organizations; public or private institutions, such as universities, colleges, hospitals, and laboratories; units of state and local governments; eligible agencies of the Federal government; domestic institutions/organizations only; faith-based community-based organizations; Federally Recognized Indian Tribes, Tribal Governments, Colleges, and/or Organizations.

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

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

C. Other
Applications must substantially comply with the application submission instructions and requirements set forth in Section IV of this announcement or they will be rejected. In addition, where a page limitation is expressed in Section IV with respect to parts of the application, pages in excess of the page limit will not be reviewed. Applications must be received by the EPA, or Grants.gov, on or before the solicitation closing date and time in Section IV of this announcement or they will be returned to the sender without further consideration. Also, applications exceeding the funding limits or project period term 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 the sponsoring Agencies’ assistance authorities; specifically, the statute(s) listed in I.C. above. 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.

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. Applications must 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 EPA, DOE, NSF 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, representativeness, completeness, comparability, or data quality objectives).
          2. Describe the procedures for the handling and custody of samples including sample collection, identification, preservation, transportation, and storage, and how the accuracy of test measurements will be verified.
          3. Describe or reference each analytical method to be used, any QA or QC checks or procedures with the associated acceptance criteria, and any procedures that will be used in the calibration and performance evaluation of the analytical instrumentation.
          4. Discuss the procedures for overall data reduction, analysis, and reporting. Include a description of all statistical methods to make inferences and conclusions, acceptable error rates and/or power, and any statistical software to be used.

        2. Use of existing/secondary data (i.e., data previously collected for other purposes or from other sources):
          1. Describe or reference each analytical method to be used, any QA or QC checks or procedures with the associated acceptance criteria, and any procedures that will be used in the calibration and performance evaluation of the analytical instrumentation.
          2. Discuss the procedures for overall data reduction, analysis, and reporting. Include a description of all statistical methods to make inferences and conclusions, acceptable error rates and/or power, and any statistical software to be used.

        3. Method development:
          (Note: The data collected for use in method development or evaluation should be described in the QAS as per the guidance in section 3A and/or 3B above.)

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

        4. Development or refinement of models:
          (Note: The data collected for use in the development or refinement of models should be described in the QAS as per the guidance in section 3A and/or 3B above.)
          1. Discuss the scope and purpose of the model, key assumptions to be made during development/refinement, requirements for code development, and how the model will be documented.
          2. Discuss verification techniques to ensure the source code implements the model correctly.
          3. Discuss validation techniques to determine that the model (assumptions and algorithms) captures the essential phenomena with adequate fidelity.
          4. Discuss plans for long-term maintenance of the model and associated data.

        5. Development or operation of environmental technology:
          (Note: The data collected for use in the development or evaluation of the technology should be described in the QAS as per the guidance in section 3A and/or 3B above.)
          1. Describe the overall purpose and anticipated impact of the technology.
          2. Describe the technical and quality specifications of each technology component or process that is to be designed, fabricated, constructed, and/or operated.
          3. Discuss the procedure to be used for documenting and controlling design changes.
          4. Discuss the procedure to be used for documenting the acceptability of processes and components, and discuss how the technology will be benchmarked and its effectiveness determined.
          5. Discuss the documentation requirements for operating instructions/guides for maintenance and use of the system(s) and/or process(s).

        6. Conducting surveys:
          (Note: The data to be collected in the survey and any supporting data should be described in the QAS as per the guidance in section 3A and/or 3B above.)

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

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

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

    3. 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.

      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 IV.B.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. Include travel funds for annual Nano 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: List each item in sufficient detail for the agencies 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.
      8. Indirect Costs: If indirect costs are included in the budget, indicate the approved rate and base with an explanation of how the indirect costs were calculated.

  7. Resumes

    Provide resumes for each investigator and important co-worker. The resume for each individual must not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced, standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins.

  8. Current and Pending Support

    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:

      Environmental and biological fate, transport, and transformation, EPA-G2007-STAR-R1
      Human exposure/bioavailability, EPA-G2007-STAR-R2

    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 EPA 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: August 22, 2007, 4:00 pm Eastern Time for paper applications, 4:00 pm Eastern Time for electronic submissions.

D. Funding Restrictions
General

The funding mechanism for all awards issued under this STAR solicitation will consist of assistance agreements from the EPA, NSF, or DOE.  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.

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.

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.

EPA

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.

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.

DOE

Under the funding mechanism for all awards issued by DOE, for Cost Principles, costs must be allowable in accordance with the applicable Federal Cost Principles referenced in 10 CFR Part 600. The cost principles for commercial organizations are in FAR part 131.

NSF

No funding restrictions

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. Acknowledgment 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; emails 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 5:00 pm 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 5:00 pm 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

All applications will undergo two reviews. The first is the Peer Review, where the scientific merit of the proposal will be judged according to the criteria outlined below. The second review, called a Programmatic Review, will be conducted by each Agency (EPA, DOE, and NSF) separately and will be performed only on those proposals that pass Peer Review. Criteria for the Programmatic Reviews are listed following the Peer Review criteria.

A. Peer Review
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
General

Applications 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, DOE, and NSF. All other applications are automatically declined.

EPA

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.

DOE

DOE's programmatic review will consider the following factors:

  • Scientific merit and diversity of research activities that will lead to new understandings of ecological impacts of nanomaterials that could find application in energy technologies and provide insights into the potential uses of inert nanomaterials for use as environmental tracers;
  • Importance of the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields;
  • How well qualified the proposer (individual or team) is to conduct the project;
  • The extent to which the proposed activity identifies and explores creative and original concepts;
  • How well conceived and organized the proposed activity is;
  • The integration of the proposed research with other nanoscience activities (including DOE Nanoscience Centers) being funded by other National Nanotechnology Initiative participating agencies;
  • Total amount of DOE funds available: $3 million.

NSF

NSF's programmatic review will consider the following factors:

  • What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity?
  • How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields?
  • How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of prior work.)
  • To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original concepts?
  • How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity?
  • Is there sufficient access to resources?
  • What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity? How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?

C. Funding Decisions
EPA

Final EPA 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.

DOE

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

NSF

Final NSF funding decisions are made by the appropriate Program Director based on the results of the peer review and internal considerations.

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.

EPA

Applicants recommended for funding will be required to submit additional certifications and an electronic version of the revised project abstract. They may also be asked to provide responses to comments or suggestions offered by the peer reviewers, a revised budget, and/or to resubmit their proposal. EPA Project Officers will contact Principal Investigators to obtain these materials. Before or after an award, applicants may be required to provide additional quality assurance documentation.

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 (PDF) (9 pp, 33 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 EPA 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.

DOE

DOE will notify applicants selected for award. This notice of selection is not an authorization to begin performance. Pre-award costs. Recipients may charge to an award resulting from this announcement pre-award costs that were incurred within the ninety (90) calendar day period immediately preceding the effective date of the award, if the costs are allowable in accordance with the applicable Federal cost principles referenced in 10CFR Part 600. Recipients must obtain the prior approval of the contracting officer for any pre-award costs that are for periods greater than this 90 day calendar period. Pre-award costs are incurred at the applicant's risk. DOE is under no obligation to reimburse such costs if for any reason the applicant does not receive an award or if the award is made for a lesser amount than the applicant expected.

NSF

NSF will make awards according to standard NSF procedures.

B. Disputes
For EPA, 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://www.epa.gov/quality/informationguidelines/. These procedures may apply to data generated by grant recipients if those data are disseminated as described in the Guidelines.

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

  6. Reporting: 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.

    A grant recipient must agree to provide copies of any peer reviewed journal article(s) resulting from the research during the project period. In addition, the recipient should notify the EPA Project Officer of any papers published after completion of the grant that were based on research supported by the grant. NCER posts references to all publications resulting from a grant on the NCER web site.

  7. Acknowledgement of Support: EPA’s full or partial support must be acknowledged in journal articles, oral or poster presentations, news releases, interviews with reporters and other communications. Any documents developed under this agreement that are intended for distribution to the public or inclusion in a scientific, technical, or other journal shall include the following statement:
    This publication [article] was developed under STAR Research Assistance Agreement No. __________ awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It has not been formally reviewed by the EPA. The views expressed in this document are solely those of [name of recipient] and the EPA does not endorse any products or commercial services mentioned in this publication.

    A graphic that may 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.

  8. Exchange Network: EPA, states, territories, and tribes are working together to develop the National Environmental Information Exchange Network, a secure, Internet- and standards-based way to support electronic data reporting, sharing, and integration of both regulatory and non-regulatory environmental data. States, tribes and territories exchanging data with each other or with EPA, should make the Exchange Network and the Agency's connection to it, the Central Data Exchange (CDX), the standard way they exchange data and should phase out any legacy methods they have been using. More information on the Exchange Network is available at http://www.exchangenetwork.net.

DOE

  1. Administrative Requirements: The administrative requirements for DOE grants and cooperative agreements are contained in 10 CFR part 600 and 10 CFR Part 605 (See: http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov), except for grants made to Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) institutions. The FDP terms and conditions and DOE FDP agency specific terms and conditions are located on the National Science Foundation web site at http://www.nsf.gov/awards/managing/fed_dem_part.jsp.

  2. Special Terms and Conditions and National Policy Requirements: The DOE Special Terms and Conditions for use in most grants and cooperative agreements are located at http://grants.pr.doe.gov. The National Policy Assurances to be incorporated as award terms are located at http://grants.pr.doe.gov.

  3. Intellectual Property Provisions: The standard DOE financial assistance intellectual property provisions applicable to the various types of recipients are located at http://www.gc.doe.gov/techtrans/sipp_matrix.html.

  4. Reporting: Reporting requirements are identified on the Federal Assistance Reporting Checklist, DOE F 4600.2, attached to the award agreement.

  5. Acknowledgement of Support: DOE’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 award [grant award number] from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, under the auspices of an interagency program, STAR Research Assistance Agreement, with the US Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, etc.

NSF

No additional requirements.

VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the Agency 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
Technical Contacts: Nora Savage (savage.nora@epa.gov), Environmental Protection Agency; phone: 703-347-8104
Cynthia J. Ekstein (cekstein@nsf.gov), National Science Foundation; phone: 703-292-7941
Daniel Drell (daniel.drell@science.doe.gov), Department of Energy; phone: 301-903-4742;

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