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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

Sustainable Chesapeake: A Collaborative Approach to Urban Stormwater Management

This is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity.

Funding Opportunity Number: EPA-G2011-STAR-A1

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 66.509

Solicitation Opening Date: September 30, 2010
Solicitation Closing Date: January 31, 2011: 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time

Eligibility Contact: James Gentry (gentry.james@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8093
Electronic Submissions: Ron Josephson (josephson.ron@epa.gov); phone: 703-308-0442
Technical Contact: Anne Sergeant (sergeant.anne@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8105

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)

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

Synopsis of Program:
EPA is seeking proposals for integrated, transdisciplinary research centers that will advance scientific understanding of how to influence human and institutional behavior to prevent pollution from entering Chesapeake Bay.  Presidential Executive Order 13508 (Executive Order, 2010) directs the Federal government to lead efforts to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay.  To that end, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, is seeking applications for “Sustainable Chesapeake” Research Centers to explore sustainable urban stormwater management.  EPA is specifically interested in supporting research to identify new, collaborative approaches to reduce urban stormwater inputs into Chesapeake Bay.  Each Center research project should include three components: physical/biological science, social science, and measures of success or progress.  Research areas of interest include: applying existing stormwater-reduction techniques in new ways; developing new techniques and technologies; identifying the reasons existing strategies to restore or protect the Chesapeake Bay have succeeded or failed; developing methods and metrics to document water-quality improvements in Chesapeake Bay tributaries; and developing sector-specific strategies such as for residential areas, industrial settings, commercial developments, or transportation infrastructure.

Award Information:
Anticipated Type of Award:  Grant
Estimated Number of Awards:  Approximately two awards
Anticipated Funding Amount:  Approximately $4.4 million total for all awards
Potential Funding per Award:  Up to a total of $2.2 million, including direct and indirect costs, with a maximum duration of 4 years.  Cost-sharing is not required.  Proposals with budgets exceeding the total award limits will not be considered.

Eligibility Information:
Public nonprofit institutions/organizations (includes public institutions of higher education and hospitals) and private nonprofit institutions/organizations (includes private institutions of higher education and hospitals) located in the U.S., state and local governments, Federally Recognized Indian Tribal Governments, and U.S. territories or possessions are eligible to apply.  See full announcement for more details.

Application Materials:
To apply under this solicitation, use the application package available at Grants.gov (for further submission information see Section IV.E. “Submission Instructions and other Submission Requirements”).  The necessary forms for submitting a STAR application will be found on the National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) web site, http://epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms. If your organization is not currently registered with Grants.gov, you need to allow approximately one week to complete the registration process.  This registration, and electronic submission of your application, must be performed by an authorized representative of your organization.

If you do not have the technical capability to utilize the Grants.gov application submission process for this solicitation, call 1-800-490-9194 or send a webmail message to http://www.epa.gov/ncer/contact_us.html at least 15 calendar days before the submission deadline to assure timely receipt of alternate submission instructions.  In your message  provide the funding opportunity number and title of the program, specify that you are requesting alternate submission instructions, and provide a telephone number, fax number, and an email address, if available.  Alternate instructions will be e-mailed whenever possible.  Any applications submitted through alternate submission methods must comply with all the provisions of this Request for Applications (RFA), including Section IV, and be received by the solicitation closing date identified above.

Agency Contacts:
Eligibility Contact: James Gentry (gentry.james@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8093
Electronic Submissions: Ron Josephson (josephson.ron@epa.gov); phone: 703-308-0442
Technical Contact: Anne Sergeant (sergeant.anne@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8105

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

A. Introduction
Despite years of research, data collection, and planning, the Chesapeake Bay remains in poor condition.  Local efforts to improve the Bay have made some headway but have been limited by various interest groups’ conflicting goals.  The 2009 Chesapeake EcoCheck Report Card (Chesapeake EcoCheck, 2009) scored its Bay Health Index, based on six indicators, at 46 percent—a C (http://www.eco-check.org/reportcard/chesapeake/2009/ ).  (For reference, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation [CBF] believes that a “Saved Bay” would score 70 percent [CBF, 2010].)  The single largest culprit is excess nutrients. These may come from wastewater treatment plants, stormwater runoff from urban/suburban areas, runoff from farmland, or air pollution.   Other stressors include development, overharvest, agriculture, and climate change.  Presidential Executive Order 13508 directs the Federal government to lead efforts to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay, and offers an opportunity to develop new, holistic approaches that incorporate the best of successful programs and apply them to better manage the Bay.  The National Research Council (NRC, 2009a) notes that urban stormwater, although well-characterized, is a growing problem, and that new control approaches are needed.  Some of its many recommendations include a holistic approach to improve aquatic life protection, nonstructural controls, more research on their effectiveness, and management by watershed rather than political boundaries.  The NRC also identifies retrofits to existing stormwater controls as a unique opportunity for progress.

EPA plans to support research to identify collaborative approaches to reduce urban stormwater inputs into Chesapeake Bay.  Research areas of interest include:  [1] applying existing stormwater-reduction techniques in new ways; [2] developing new techniques and technologies; [3] identifying the reasons existing strategies have succeeded or failed; [4] and developing methods and metrics to document water-quality improvements in Chesapeake Bay tributaries.  Investigators may either develop an integrated strategy or a series of sector-specific strategies such as for residential areas, industrial settings, commercial developments, or transportation infrastructure.  EPA is particularly interested in proposals for integrated, transdisciplinary research centers that address the interest areas above, and advance scientific understanding of how to influence human and institutional behavior to prevent pollution from entering Chesapeake Bay.

B. Background
This funding opportunity—the “Sustainable Chesapeake” program—is modeled after the EPA’s Collaborative Science & Technology Network for Sustainability (CNS) grant program.  CNS is a cornerstone of the EPA Office of Research and Development’s transition to sustainability (http://epa.gov/ncer/cns/).  Funded projects have tracked success against short- and long-term environmental, economic, and social measures; connected diverse sets of partners including universities, federal agencies, cities, states, regional planning organizations, nonprofit organizations, and industry; and transferred tools, approaches, and lessons to other states, localities, or regions.  In its CNS project “Using Market Forces to Implement Sustainable Stormwater Management,” the City of Portland, OR has reduced stormwater (and its associated nutrients, pesticides, hydrocarbons, and sediments) inputs into waterbodies through its Clean River program, and expects to avoid considerable stormwater treatment costs.  (See http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/research.display/rpt/abs/rfa_list/388,436 for project descriptions for the full CNS portfolio)  The “Sustainable Chesapeake” program will employ a similar approach, in which multiple entities will collaborate to explore new environmental-protection approaches for the Chesapeake Bay that are systems-oriented, forward-looking, preventive, and collaborative.  The program will also address long-term sustainability of stormwater-management approaches.

There are many other stormwater-management strategies that consider sustainability. Examples include certain Best Management Practices (BMPs), Green Infrastructure (GI), or Low-Impact Development (LID) such as Washington, DC’s RiverSmart Rooftops, Philadelphia’s Green Infrastructure Plan exit EPA, and Chicago’s Green Alleys program . Another approach is to recognize stormwater as a lost resource (Delaware Riverkeeper, 2001); this creates incentives to reduce peak flows downstream by encouraging water-resource managers to look for opportunities to enhance groundwater recharge and water re-use at a community scale (see, for instance, Charles River Watershed Association’s “Conservation Tips”).

Bay Setting:
The Chesapeake Bay is one of the world’s largest estuaries, with a 64,000 mi2 watershed that includes parts of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, as well as Washington D.C.  About 17 million people live in the watershed, with over half of them near or along its 11,600-mile tidal shoreline.

Since colonial times, the Bay has lost half of its forested shoreline, over half of its wetlands, nearly 90 percent of its underwater grasses, and more than 98 percent of its oysters.  During the 350 years between 1600 and 1950, about 1.7 million watershed acres were lost to development.  During the 30 years between 1950 and 1980, the Bay watershed lost an additional 2.7 million acres to development (CBP, 2010).

The current leading threat to the Chesapeake Bay is excess nitrogen and phosphorus pollution that destroys habitat and causes fish kills.  Major sources include agriculture, sewage treatment plants, runoff from urban and suburban areas, and air pollution from automobiles, factories, and power plants.  Other threats to the Bay include sprawl, toxic pollution, and poor fisheries management. 

The Tragedy of the Commons:
Human development and exploitation have made the Chesapeake Bay a victim of the “Tragedy of the Commons” phenomenon described by Garrett Hardin (1968), in which resource users make choices for their own individual benefit, even while knowing that others will make similar choices and ultimately degrade the resource for all.  Even those who act altruistically by conserving the resource may still lose their short-term benefits because others continue to take their share.  More recently, the NRC’s Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change, in “The Drama of the Commons,” explored several explanations for this phenomenon and advocated several potential remedies, including improved governance, exploration and clarification of resource users’ roles, exploration of the linkages across institutions, and developing multiple evaluative criteria, while recognizing that no single strategy will be sufficient (NRC, 2002).  These documents highlight the importance of social factors in developing strategies to improve the Bay.

Climate Change:
Higher temperatures, altered weather patterns, and increased storm intensity have already been observed in the Mid-Atlantic region.  Future climate change could increase evaporation from soils, evapotranspiration from vegetation, and water demand and use by people, and may cause many other changes, including timing of coastal inversion layers and seasonal nutrient upwelling, the amount of precipitation, the proportion of rain to snow, the intensity, duration, or frequency of the precipitation events, and stormwater volume and behavior in the Chesapeake Bay region (Karl et al., 2009; Pyke et al., 2008; Titus et al., 2009).  The magnitude of climate change impacts will depend on interactions with local land-uses and changes, watershed characteristics, and management practices.

Development:
About 90,000 people move into the Chesapeake Bay watershed each year, and with that influx comes increased impervious surface, pollution, and demand for natural resources.  Although various programs have reduced stressors in several categories (e.g., toxics, wastewater), nutrients and sediments associated with urban stormwater are still increasing over time (Executive Order 13508, 2010).  Strategies to reduce these stressors—the only types that are increasing—are critical to improving Bay water quality.

Impervious surfaces:
Paved areas, other waterproof surfaces, and compacted soils can adversely affect waterbodies in several ways:  The precipitation that flows over them moves faster and causes more erosion; surface heat is transferred and the water can hold less oxygen; and pollutants are swept up by the water and delivered to tributaries.  If shorelines are armored with impervious surfaces, habitat for aquatic organisms is destroyed.  Although it is commonly believed that aquatic ecosystems do not exhibit adverse effects at impervious surface area less than 10 percent, Baker and King (2010; see also King and Baker 2010) developed an analytical method that can detect adverse effects in streams at impervious surface areas of 1 to 3 percent.

The specific Strategic Goal and Objective from the EPA’s Strategic Plan that relate to this solicitation are:

    Goal 2: Clean and Safe Water, Objective 2.3: 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, 9.87 MB, about PDF)

C. Authority and Regulations
The 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).

Note that a project’s focus is to consist of activities within the statutory terms of EPA’s financial assistance authorities; specifically, the statute(s) listed above.  Generally, 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 depending on which statute(s) is listed above.  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.

Applicable regulations include: 40 CFR Part 30 (Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations), 40 CFR Part 31 (Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local Governments) and 40 CFR Part 40 (Research and Demonstration Grants).  Applicable OMB Circulars include: OMB Circular A-21 (Cost Principles for Educational Institutions) relocated to 2 CFR Part 220 , OMB Circular A-87 (Cost Principles for State, Local and Indian Tribal Governments) relocated to 2 CFR Part 225, OMB Circular A-102 (Grants and Cooperative Agreements With State and Local Governments), OMB Circular A-110 (Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Other Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals and Other Non-Profit Organizations) relocated to 2 CFR Part 215, and OMB Circular A-122 (Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations) relocated to 2 CFR Part 230.

D. Specific Research Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes
Research Centers
This RFA is a new competition for “Sustainable Chesapeake” Research Centers under which EPA is seeking proposals for integrated, transdisciplinary research centers that will advance scientific understanding of how to influence human and institutional behavior to prevent pollution from entering Chesapeake Bay.  Presidential Executive Order 13508 (Executive Order, 2010) directs the Federal government to lead efforts to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay.  To that end, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, is seeking applications for “Sustainable Chesapeake” Research Centers to explore sustainable urban stormwater management.  EPA is specifically interested in supporting research to identify new, collaborative approaches to reduce urban stormwater inputs into Chesapeake Bay.

Applicants should take an integrated approach to their study designs.  In promoting integrated, transdisciplinary research, EPA seeks applications that demonstrate that the research team has worked together to design the program, to ensure each project reflects the input and interactions of different disciplines, and that the Center as a whole reflects the collective thinking of a multidisciplinary team.  It is not sufficient to list a collection of insular projects even if they address complementary topics.  EPA recognizes that tight scientific integration can be a challenge, but this is a high priority.  Applicants are expected to: demonstrate how the various projects contained within their proposals are integrated; encourage participation of investigators with the needed expertise and qualifications; and employ cutting-edge approaches.  This funding presents the opportunity for investigators from different disciplines to work together on larger problems than can be addressed in a grant proposal for a single research project.  An example of such integration might include ecologists, water-resource managers, engineers, and social scientists working together to better understand how to simultaneously reduce stormwater discharges from several sectors in a particular Chesapeake Bay tributary. 

Applicants are encouraged to bring together investigators from other departments and/or institutions, provided they can demonstrate both effective research-planning integration and approaches for maintaining that integration when the research is implemented.  Centers should take a holistic approach to stormwater-related stressors, and provide for regular communication among team members.

Each proposed research project under the Sustainable Chesapeake Research Centers program should be based on a collaborative, transdisciplinary, multi-entity partnership.  Each proposed research project within the Center should address sustainable urban stormwater management and include:

  1. A physical/biological science component such as
    • developing clear stormwater-management goals,
    • identifying existing and developing new techniques and technologies to reduce stormwater volume and keep associated pollutants from entering the Bay, and/or
    • examining existing water-resource management programs to identify which strategies are most and least effective, and the factors responsible for their respective performance (this could be conducted at regional and local scales)
  2. A social science component such as
    • identifying the most compelling reasons that influence individuals’ or communities’ adoption of behaviors that reduce stressors or protect the environment or
    • economic analysis that includes environmental, social, and economic benefits to a watershed or community
  3. Measures of success or progress, including
    • developing and promoting the use of statistically valid protocols to evaluate program effectiveness and
    • applying these metrics to evaluate the project’s success, progress, or effectiveness.

It is understood that not all activities may fit neatly into the categories shown above; however, all three components should be represented within each research project.  To the extent practicable, applicants should incorporate sustainability principles into their proposed activities.

Context for Research Questions

Urban stormwater: For purposes of this research opportunity, urban stormwater is water that flows overland from developed areas including subdivisions, large cities, highways, commercial developments, industrial areas, and transportation centers. This may include both regulated (point source) and unregulated (non-point source) discharges.

Communities: “Community” need not be limited to a municipality or neighborhood. It may be defined, for instance, as households; a professional community such as lawn care, transportation, or land-use planning; or users of a particular Bay resource. Different communities will likely value the Bay for different reasons or attributes, and may require individual metrics to evaluate success. Community-engagement efforts may employ cognitive anthropology, ethnography, or cultural models (e.g., Paolisso, 2002) to better understand a particular group’s behavior, beliefs, and expectations regarding the Bay.

Processes: Investigations should focus on both technological and behavioral (individual and community) strategies that lead to reductions in stormwater discharges to the Bay, as demonstrated by improvements in measured chemical, physical, and/or biological processes. Applicants may explore options such as (for example) physical devices (e.g., rain gardens), local regulatory approaches, incentive programs, or education campaigns.

Watersheds: Proposed projects should consider the site or activity’s role in improving water quality in its respective watershed (e.g., Choptank River) rather than political boundaries, yet recognize that many of the entities that can implement such improvements must work within jurisdictional boundaries.

Social Factors: The Chesapeake Bay Watershed is home to some of the nation’s most prosperous counties as well as areas where telephones and indoor plumbing are not common. Some areas host significant immigrant or minority populations. Proposed economic analyses should consider whether ecosystem, social, and economic benefits accrue widely or are concentrated in certain socioeconomic areas, particularly if an activity’s costs are borne elsewhere. Applicants may wish to explore how human and societal phenomena affectand can be used to accomplishenvironmental change. For instance, persuasive technology such as instant mileage indicators in hybrid vehicles induces many owners to maximize their mileage through “hypermiling.” Another example is a utility (e.g., Southern California Edison) offering programs that encourage customers to reduce power consumption by offering reports that compare their usage with that of their neighbors. Applicants may also wish to explore choice architecturethe idea that the way in which choices are presented influences decisionmaking (Thaler and Sunstein, 2009).

Sustainability: Proposed projects should be placed in the context of the “triple bottom line” of continued long-term environmental, social, and economic success. The U.N. World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED, also known as the Brundtland Commission) said “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (WECD, 1987) For this research opportunity, examples might include use of native species, community acceptance, and cost savings over traditional stormwater management approaches.

Data sources: Applicants are encouraged to use existing data such as that found at the USGS National Ambient Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program (particularly the urban-focused work at http://co.water.usgs.gov/nawqa/urbanPortal/), NOAA fisheries data (see http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/gis/data/fisheries.htm), Maryland Biological Stream Survey (MBSS; see http://www.dnr.state.md.us/streams/MBSS.asp), etc., and should document why the chosen data sets are appropriate for the intended application. If combining datasets, investigators should explain why it is appropriate to combine them (e.g., provide information about collection methods, study design, etc.).

In conducting its research, the Center should demonstrate a willingness to use, as appropriate, existing or future databases as they become available. In addition, the Centers are encouraged to seek out and participate collaboratively with data sharing or monitoring efforts.

Partnerships: Individual projects should emphasize collaboration. A partnership may be described as a group in which actors from different sectors voluntarily work to develop a product that no single actor could effectively produce on its own (NRC, 2009b). Applicants may wish to take advantage of the “plan, do, check, refine” approach described in “Enhancing the Effectiveness of Sustainability Partnerships” (NRC, 2009b). Partnerships should be collaborations of organizations that materially contribute to the project, not simply entities providing endorsement.

Examples of partnerships include but are not limited to:

    a non-governmental organization (NGO) and a highway department; 
    a university, a municipality, and an NGO; 
    a transit authority and a university;
    two NGOs, a university, a parks agency, and a local government department of environmental protection;
    multiple universities;
    an NGO, a municipal stormwater authority, and a military installation.*

*Note that in this instance, only the NGO and the local government could receive funding under such a partnership; Federal agencies are not eligible for EPA grant assistance. However, a Federal entity may allow other organizations to conduct research on their premises if the principal purpose of the study is to further scientific and public (i.e., non-Federal) understanding of the research subject. Therefore, the nature of such a study would be directed towards a general scientific audience; this may include recommendations for further study or critiques of prior research, but may not include advice to a Federal agency for improved environmental management of Federal land or property.

(See http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/research.display/rpt/abs/rfa_list/388,436 for more partnership examples.)

Complementarity and consistency with other activities:

To the extent practicable, proposed activities should strive for consistency with the livability principles described in the interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which are: [1] provide more transportation choices [2] promote equitable, affordable housing [3] enhance economic competitiveness [4] support existing communities [5] coordinate policies and leverage investment [6] value communities and neighborhoods (see http://www.smartgrowth.org/misc/default.asp?art=83) exit EPA. For instance, proposed work might include development of stormwater control features that are safe, human-scaled, aesthetically appealing, and serve as community focal points or amenities, and use local expertise to design, construct, and maintain them. Or projects could be integrated into community-revitalization efforts or green-jobs programs.

Proposed projects should also strive for consistency with the Urban Waters Initiative, particularly its goals of helping communities restore and reconnect with their waterways and surrounding land in order to restore and protect urban waters. (Urban Waters will also build upon ongoing efforts across the nation and will utilize strategies that have proven to be successful. It will also act to convene stakeholders, broker the exchange of knowledge, and leverage existing federal programs to promote urban water revitalization. See http://epa.gov/urbanwaters/.)

Example Research Questions

(Note: In developing proposals, applicants need not feel confined to these examples; they are intended only to illustrate the breadth of potential research questions.) In order to address each component, applicants may draw from these examples or develop one or more new questions, and may choose to address a single question or explore several related questions.

Physical/Biological Science

How can stormwater be harvested, stored or otherwise used as a resource by different sectors (e.g., transportation, residential, industrial, municipal)?

What are the watershed-level impacts of a particular stormwater trading program?

What are the cumulative terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem effects of stormwater management activities on a particular stream or watershed?

How effective are various operation and maintenance strategies (or none at all) in preserving the benefits of green infrastructure?

To what extent can natural hydrology be restored on an urban infill site?

Social Science

What are the best strategies for engaging a community or neighborhood with a neglected/impaired stream or wetland and transforming it into a cultural amenity?

How can stormwater be used as a community amenity, i.e., reduce energy consumption, enhance community livability, and enhance or restore ecosystem services?

How can innovative stormwater systems both improve water quality and help reduce municipal infrastructure costs (construction, materials and operation and management costs)?

What motivates people or organizations to take action to protect the environment?

Which GI/LID approaches are best suited for application on different types of properties (e.g., homes, businesses, public resources)?

Measures

How can the success of stormwater-reduction programs best be monitored and evaluated for both effectiveness and sustainability?

What are the associated ecosystem, societal, and economic benefits of improved stormwater management? Do they accrue in the community, or elsewhere?

What are the performance characteristics of various nonstructural stormwater controls?

How can we evaluate the success of human-oriented strategies such as choice architecture and persuasive technology? (See “Social Factors” above.)

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 activity(ies) that is related to an environmental, behavioral, or health-related objective.

The expected outputs from this research will be scientific data and information on how best to influence human and institutional behavior to reduce stormwater inputs into Chesapeake Bay. These outputs are expected to include articles in peer-reviewed journals, websites, periodic reports, and presentations at scientific conferences. Additionally, proposed activities should generate products that states, tribes, and municipalities can use to develop stormwater management practices, inform their decisionmaking, and achieve their water-quality goals.

Expected outcomes include reduced stormwater volume, reduced impervious surface, improved water quality, and increased community engagement with local watersheds or waterbodies. Expected outcomes should be articulated in a way that expresses the spatial and temporal scale over which water-quality improvements are expected. Measures should be designed to detect those improvements at the appropriate spatial and temporal scales. (Because they are more easily measured than other parameters, the National Research Council (2009a) recommends that flow and impervious surface be considered as proxies for stormwater pollutant loading.) It is also expected that this information will both inform watershed and waterbody assessments and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of state, tribal, and local water-quality management strategies.

E. References
Baker, M.E. and King, R.S.  A new method for detecting and interpreting biodiversity and ecological community thresholds.  Methods in Ecology & Evolution doi: 10.1111/j.2041-210X.2009.00007.x  (2010)

Charles River Watershed Association (CWRA).  Conservation Tips. (http://www.crwa.org/watershed/tips/residents.html exit EPA; accessed 23 August 2010)  (2010)

Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF).  Bay Area Factshttp://www.cbf.org/Page.aspx?pid=433 exit EPA (accessed 32 August 2010)

Chesapeake EcoCheck.  Chesapeake Bay Report Cardhttp://www.eco-check.org/reportcard/chesapeake/2009/ exit EPA (2009; accessed 23 August 2010)

Delaware Riverkeeper.  Stormwater Runoff, Lost Resource or Community Asset?  Washington Crossing, PA (2001)

Executive Order 13508, Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration http://executiveorder.chesapeakebay.net/ exit EPA (2010; accessed 23 August 2010)

Hardin, G.  The Tragedy of the Commons.  Science 13 December 1968 162: 1243-1248  (1968)

Karl, T.R., Melillo, J.M, and Peterson, T.C., eds.  Global Climate Change in the United States.  Cambridge University Press.  (2009)

King, R.S. and Baker, M.E.  Considerations for analyzing ecological community thresholds in response to anthropogenic environmental gradients.  Journal of the North American Benthological Society: Vol. 29, No. 3, pp. 998-1008.  (2010)

National  Research Council (NRC).  The Drama of the Commons.  National Academies Press, Washington.  ISBN-13: 978-0-309-08250-1.  (2002)

National Research Council (NRC).  Urban Stormwater Management in the United States.  National Academies Press, Washington. ISBN-13: 978-0-309-12539-0.  (2009a)

National Research Council (NRC).  Enhancing the Effectiveness of Sustainability Partnerships.  National Academies Press, Washington.  ISBN-13: 978-0-309-12993-0. (2009b)

Paolisso, M.  Blue Crabs and Controversy on the Chesapeake Bay:  A Cultural Model for Understanding Watermen’s Reasoning about Blue Crab Management.  Human Organization 61(3): 226-239.  (2002)

Paul, M.J & J.L. Meyer.  Streams in the Urban Landscape.  Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 32:333–65.  (2001)

Pyke, C.R., Najjar, R.G., Adams, M.B., Breitburg, D., Kemp, M., Hershner, C., Howarth, R., Mulholland, M., Paolisso, M., Secor, D., Sellner, K., Wardrop, D., and Wood, R. Climate Change and the Chesapeake Bay: State-of-the-Science Review and Recommendations. A Report from the Chesapeake Bay Program Science and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC), Annapolis, MD.   (2008)

Roy, A.H. et al.  Impediments and Solutions to Sustainable, Watershed-Scale Urban Stormwater Management:  Lessons from Australia and the United States.  Environmental Management (42):344-359.  (2008)

Thaler, R.H. and Sunstein, C.R.  Nudge.  Penguin Books, New York.  (2009)

Titus, J.G. et al.  Coastal Sensitivity to Sea-Level Rise: A Focus on the Mid-Atlantic Region.  Washington D.C.: A report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research.  (2009)

Walsh, C.J. et al.  The Urban Stream Syndrome:  Current Knowledge and the Search for a Cure.  Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 2005, 24(3):706–723.  (2005)

World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED).  Our Common Future Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-282080-X.  (1987)

F. Special Requirements
Agency policy and ethical considerations prevent EPA technical staff and managers from providing applicants with 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.  EPA employees cannot endorse any particular application.

Multiple Investigator applications may be submitted as: (1) a single Lead Principal Investigator (PI) application with Co-PI(s) or (2) a Multiple PI application (with a single Contact PI).  If you choose to submit a Multiple PI application, you must follow the specific instructions provided in Sections IV. and V. of this RFA.  For further information, please see the EPA Implementation Plan for Policy on Multiple Principal Investigators (http://rbm.nih.gov/toolkit.htm).

The application must include a plan (see “Data Plan” in section IV.B.6.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 an agreement 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, a Geographic Positioning System (GPS), remote sensing, mapping, charting, and surveying technologies, or statistical data. 

As described more fully in Section IV, each application must address the following items (for content and form of application submission and page limitations, see Section IV.B):

  1. Center Description (5-page limit): Applications should describe the overall goals, objectives, and approach for the Center, including how the Center will pursue a multidisciplinary and thematic approach to the problems to be investigated.
  2. Research Project Descriptions (15-page limit for each project description):  Applications should contain one or more projects that address a theme related to the research questions described above in Section D.  Each of the specific individual research projects should be completely described according to the instructions in Section IV below.  Individual project descriptions should explain how the project fits into the overall Center program and relates to other projects in the proposal.
  3. Administrative Core Unit Description (15-page limit):  Each Center shall have an Administrative Core Unit which provides overall oversight, coordination and integration of the Center’s activities.  As part of the Administrative Core description, applications should include a Center Integration Plan describing how the program will be integrated internally.  Center proposals should take a multidisciplinary approach.  The Center’s Integration Plan, at minimum, should indicate how programmatic and funding decisions will be made; how project objectives will be successfully achieved in a timely manner; how investigators from different disciplines within the Center will communicate on a regular basis about the development and progress of Center projects; how progress toward achieving the expected results (outputs and outcomes) will be monitored and measured; who will set priorities, and who will be responsible for implementing the integration plan, assuring compliance with the plan, and evaluating its effectiveness in achieving integration within the Center.

    The Center proposal should also address how the Center will disseminate research findings and other information.  Publishing research results in scientific journals is essential; however, it is not sufficient.  Plans for Center websites and other means of communicating results should be described.

    The Administrative Core should also provide for coordination and integration with the other Center, as described in Section VI (see “Coordination After Grant Award”).

  4. If appropriate, a Center can elect to have one or more Facility Support Cores that provide a technique, service, or instrumentation that will enhance ongoing research efforts across the Center’s specific projects. Examples of such facilities are analytical chemistry laboratories, statistics centers, etc. The application should provide a compelling rationale for why such a core is needed and how it will be used by multiple projects within the proposed center (15-page limit per Facility Support Core).

II. AWARD INFORMATION

It is anticipated that a total of approximately $4.4 million will be awarded under this announcement, depending on the availability of funds, quality of applications received, and other applicable considerations.  The EPA anticipates funding approximately two awards under this RFA.  Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $2.2 million, including direct and indirect costs, will not be considered.  The total project period requested in an application submitted for this RFA may not exceed four 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 six months after the original selection decisions.

EPA intends to award only grants 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.

III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

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

Eligible nonprofit organizations include any organizations that meet the definition of nonprofit in OMB Circular A-122, located at 2 CFR Part 230.  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 to the extent authorized by law.  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 James Gentry (gentry.james@epa.gov) in NCER, phone 703-347-8093.

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 submitted to grants.gov (see Section IV.E. “Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements” for further information) 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.

Each Center shall include an Administrative Core responsible for overall oversight, coordination and integration of the Center’s activities. Applications that do not include an Administrative Core in the proposed Center will be rejected.

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

IV. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

Formal instructions for submission through Grants.gov follow in Section E.

A. Internet Address to Request Application Package
Use the application package available at Grants.gov (see Section E. “Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements”).  Note: With the exception of the current and pending support form (available at http://epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms), all necessary forms are included in the electronic application package.

An email will be sent by NCER to the Lead/Contact PI 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 Section E. “Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements” for additional information regarding the application receipt acknowledgment.

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.

Summary of Page Limitations for Application Content:

The documents listed below must be single-spaced, with standard 12-point type and 1-inch margins on 8.5x11-inch paper. 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 following page limitations may not be exceeded (excess pages will not be reviewed):

  • Abstracts: 1-page abstract for the Center as a whole; 1-page abstracts for each proposed research project
  • Research Plan: 5 pages for overall Center objectives, approach, and expected benefits; 15 pages for each research project description
  • Research Cores: 15 pages for the Administrative Core; 15 pages for each Facility Support Core(s)
  • Budget: Budget summary pages and project pages should include both annual budgets for each year, one through four, and cumulative totals for the entire four-year period:
      2-page summary for the total Center budget
      2 pages per research project
      2 pages for the Administrative Core and each Facility Support Core(s)
  • Budget Justification: 2 pages per research project; 2 pages for the Administrative Core and each Facility Support Core(s)
  • Quality Assurance Management Plan: 5 pages
  • Data Plan: 2 pages
  1. Standard Form 424

    The applicant must complete Standard Form 424. 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 signature of an authorized representative of the applying organization.

    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," does not apply to the Office of Research and Development's research and training programs unless EPA has determined that the activities that will be carried out under the applicants' proposal (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.

    If EPA determines that Executive Order 12372 applies to an applicant's proposal, the applicant must follow the procedures in 40 CFR Part 29. The applicant must notify their state's single point of contact (SPOC). To determine whether their state participates in this process, and how to comply, applicants should consult http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants_spoc. If an applicant is in a State that does not have a SPOC, or the State has not selected research and development grants for intergovernmental review, the applicant must notify directly affected State, area wide, regional and local entities of its proposal.

    EPA will notify the successful applicant(s) if Executive Order 12372 applies to its proposal prior to award.

  2. Key Contacts

    The applicant must complete the "Key Contacts" form found in the Grants.gov application package. An "Additional Key Contacts" form is also available at http://epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms. The Key Contacts form should also be completed for major sub-agreements (i.e., primary investigators). Do not include information for consultants or other contractors. Please make certain that all contact information is accurate.

    For Multiple PI applications: The Additional Key Contacts form must be completed (see Section I.F. for further information). Note: The Contact PI must be affiliated with the institution submitting the application. EPA will direct all communications related to scientific, technical, and budgetary aspects of the project to the Contact PI; however, any information regarding an application will be shared with any PI upon request. The Contact PI is to be listed on the Key Contact Form as the Project Manager/Principal Investigator (the term Project Manager is used on the Grants.gov form, the term Principal Investigator is used on the form located on NCER's web site). For additional PIs, complete the Major Co-Investigator fields and identify PI status next to the name (e.g., "Name: John Smith, Principal Investigator").

  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 abstract for the Center as a whole; 1 page abstracts for each proposed research project)

    The abstract is a very important document in the review process. Therefore, it is critical that the abstract accurately describes the research being proposed and conveys all the essential elements of the research. Also, the abstracts of applications that receive funding will be posted on the NCER web site.

    The abstract should include the information 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, use more commonly understood terminology. Do not use general phrases such as "research on."
    3. Investigators: For applications with multiple investigators, state whether this is a single Lead PI (with co-PIs) or Multiple PI application (see Section I.F.). For Lead PI applications, list the Lead PI, then the name(s) of each co-PI who will significantly contribute to the project. For Multiple PI applications, list the Contact PI, then the name(s) of each additional PI. 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 from the EPA (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://epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms.
  5. Center Description (5 pages)

    Applications should describe the overall goals, objectives, and approach for the Center, including how the Center will pursue an integrated, transdisciplinary approach to the problems to be investigated. The Center should also describe the potential impact of the research in advancing the science on how to reduce stormwater inputs toand effects onChesapeake Bay.

  6. Research Plan, Quality Assurance Statement, Data Plan and References
    1. Research Plan (15 pages per research project description)

      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.

      Each research project 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.

      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.
      2. Approach/Activities: Outline the research design, methods, and techniques that you intend to use in meeting the objectives stated above.
      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 and peer reviewers understand the merits of the research.
      4. General Project Information: Discuss other information relevant to the potential success of the project. This should include facilities, personnel expertise/experience, project schedules with associated milestones and target dates, 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.
      5. Appendices may be included but must remain within the 15-page limit.
    2. Quality Management Plan (5 pages)

      For any project involving data collection or processing, conducting surveys, environmental measurements, modeling, or the development of environmental technology (whether hardware-based or via new techniques) for pollution control, the EPA requires a plan discussing processes that will be used to assure that results of the research satisfy the intended project objectives. The required plan is described below.

      A Quality Management Plan documents an organization's policy on implementing and assessing the effectiveness of its quality assurance and quality control operations applied to environmental programs. General QMP guidance can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/guidanceqmps0607.pdf (2 pp, 25 K)

      For more detailed EPA guidance, see EPA Requirements for Quality Management Plans (EPA QA/R-2) on the EPA website at http://www.epa.gov/quality/qs-docs/r2-final.pdf (30 pp, 87 K).

      The QMP provided with the application must contain the shown information below. EPA's Quality System will likely require an expanded version of this document following award.

      1. Summary - A discussion of the overall quality assurance and quality control needs of the Center and the objectives of the Center's Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC) policy.
      2. Organization and Management - This section should include: a. Organization chart that identifies: 1. all of the components (research project or core activity) of the Center; 2. the Principal Investigator or overall manager for each component; 3. the person responsible for QA/QC activities for each component and how they report to the QA Manager and Center Director; b. Description of the specific responsibilities of the QA Manager and any other personnel with QA responsibilities; c. Description of any delegations of QA responsibility to sub-awardees or contractors (especially QC responsibilities); and d. Discussion of how the Center will maintain effective communications throughout the management structure.
      3. Quality System - This section should include brief discussions of: a. How the Center's research activities will be reviewed and evaluated to ensure quality; b. How staff will be trained, and who will be responsible for training; c. How data will be stored and made available to Center personnel and to the public; and d. How the Center's QA/QC procedures will be reviewed and evaluated, including how recommended changes will be implemented.
      4. Project or Component Specific - This section should discuss the QA and QC needs for the Center's components and should describe or reference any standard procedures (such as SOPs) that will be used to address these needs. (Individual project QA plans, expected after award as part of the Center's QA program, should include descriptions of how the data needs relate to the hypotheses being tested or the objectives.) This section should also address the following: a. How the sample size(s) will be selected and demonstrated to be sufficient to test the hypotheses or meet a specific objective; b. How the necessary performance criteria for measured data to test the hypotheses or meet the objective will be identified; c. How the quality of previously collected data will be determined appropriate for its stated use; d. How data will be managed (collected, backed-up, collated, transferred, and stored) to ensure that the quality is maintained and documented; and e. What data analysis methods will be used.
      5. Documentation and Records - Describe or reference the procedures the Center will use for identifying and maintaining QA and QC related documents and records.
    3. Data Plan (2 pages)

      Provide 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 other page limits (e.g. research plan, quality assurance statement, data plan)
  7. Administrative Core (15 pages)

    Each Center shall have an Administrative Core Unit which provides overall oversight, coordination and integration of the Center's activities. As part of the Administrative Core description, applications should provide a Center Integration Plan describing how the program will be integrated internally. Center proposals should take a multidisciplinary approach. The Center's Integration Plan, at minimum, should indicate how programmatic and funding decisions will be made; how project objectives will be successfully achieved in a timely manner; how investigators from different disciplines within the Center will communicate on a regular basis about the development and progress of Center projects; how progress toward achieving the expected results (outputs and outcomes) will be monitored and measured; who will set priorities, and who will be responsible for implementing the integration plan, assuring compliance with the plan, and evaluating its effectiveness in achieving integration within the Center. The Center proposal should also address how the Center will disseminate research findings and other information. Publishing research results in scientific journals is essential; however, it is not sufficient. Plans for Center websites and other means of communicating results should be described.

  8. Facility Support Core(s) (15 pages per core)

    If appropriate and desired, a Center may elect to have one or more Facility Support Cores that provide a technique, service, or instrumentation that will enhance ongoing research efforts across the Center's specific projects. Examples of such facilities are analytical chemistry laboratories, statistics centers, laboratory animal facilities, etc. The application must provide a compelling rationale for why such a core is needed and how it will be used by multiple projects within the proposed center. Contracts for services must comply with EPA's procurement regulations (see Section IV.D. Funding Restrictions).

  9. Budget and Budget Justification
    1. Budget

      Prepare a master budget table using "SF-424A Budget Information for Non-Construction Programs" (aka SF-424A), available in the Grants.gov electronic application package and also at http://epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms. Only complete "Section B-Budget Categories". Provide the object class budget category (a. - k.) amounts for each budget year under the "Grant Program, Function or Activity" heading. Each column reflects a separate budget year. For example, Column (1) reflects budget year 1. The total budget will be automatically tabulated in column (5).

      If a subaward, such as a subagreement with an educational institution is included in the application, provide a separate SF-424A and budget justification for the subaward. Include the total amount for the subaward under "Other" in the master SF-424A. Applicants may not use subagreements to transfer or delegate their responsibility for successful completion of their EPA assistance agreement. Therefore, EPA expects that subawards or subcontracts should not constitute more than 40% of the total direct cost of the total project budget. If a subaward/subcontract constitutes more than 40% of the total direct cost, additional justification may be required before award, discussing the need for the subaward/subcontract to accomplish the objectives of the research project. Please see Section IV. D below if your organization intends to identify specific contractors, including consultants, and subawardees in your proposal.

      Please note that institutional cost-sharing is not required. However, if voluntary cost-sharing is proposed, a brief statement concerning cost-sharing should be added to the budget justification.

      Please note that when formulating budgets for proposals/applications, applicants must not include management fees or similar charges in excess of the direct costs and indirect costs at the rate approved by the applicants cognizant audit agency, or at the rate provided for by the terms of the agreement negotiated with EPA. The term "management fees or similar charges" refers to expenses added to the direct costs in order to accumulate and reserve funds for ongoing business expenses, unforeseen liabilities, or for other similar costs that are not allowable under EPA assistance agreements. Management fees or similar charges may not be used to improve or expand the project funded under this agreement, except to the extent authorized as a direct cost of carrying out the scope of work.

    2. Budget Justification [2 pages per research project, facility core and the administrative core in addition to the Section IV.B.6 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 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: Specify the amount you anticipate expending for services/analyses or consultants and specify the purpose of the contracts and estimated cost. Any procurement of services from individual consultants or commercial firms (including space for workshops) must comply with the competitive procurement requirements of 40 C.F.R. Part 30 or 40 C.F.R. 31.36, as appropriate. Please see Section IV. D below for more details.
      7. Other: List each item in sufficient detail for the EPA to determine the reasonableness of its cost relative to the research to be undertaken. Note that subawards, such as those with other universities for members of the research team, are included in this category. Subawards must have a separate itemized budget and budget justification, not to exceed one additional page each, included as part of the proposal. Subawards may not be used to acquire services from consultants or commercial firms. Please see Section IV. D below for more details.
      8. Indirect Costs: If indirect costs are included in the budget identify the cognizant federal audit agency and the approved indirect rate. If your organization does not have a cognizant federal audit agency, please note that in the proposal and provide a brief explanation for how you calculated your indirect cost rate. EPA will negotiate an indirect rate if necessary.
  10. Resumes

    Provide resumes for each investigator and important co-worker. You may include resumes from staff of subawardees such as universities. Do not include resumes of consultants or other contractors. Please see Section IV.D below for more details. 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.

  11. Current and Pending Support

    Complete a current and pending support form (provided at http://epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms) for each investigator and important co-worker. Do not include current and pending support for consultants or other contractors. Include all current and pending research regardless of source.

    Note to all prospective applicants requiring multiple Current and Pending Support Form pages: Due to a limitation in Adobe Acrobat's forms functionality, additional pages cannot be directly inserted into the original PDF form and preserve the form data on the subsequent pages. Multiple page form submissions can be created in Acrobat 8 and later using the "PDF Package" option in the "Create PDF from Multiple Files" function. If you have an earlier version of Adobe Standard or Professional, applicants will need to convert each PDF page of the form to an EPS (Encapsulated Post Script) file before creating the PDF for submission. The following steps will allow applicants with earlier versions of Adobe Standard or Professional to create a PDF package:

    1. Populate the first page of the PDF, and save it as an EPS (Encapsulated Post Script) file.
    2. Reopen the form, and populate it with the data for page 2. Save this page as a different EPS file. Repeat for as many pages as necessary.
    3. Use Acrobat Distiller to convert the EPS files back to PDF.
    4. Open Acrobat Professional, and combine the individual pages into a combined PDF file.
  12. 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. EPA employees are not permitted to provide letters of intent for any application.

      Letters of support do not commit a resource vital to the success of the proposal. A letter of support is written by businesses, organizations, or community members stating their support of the applicant's proposed project. EPA employees are not permitted to provide letters of support for any application.

      Note: Letters of intent or support must be part of the application; letters submitted separately will not be accepted. Any letter of intent or support that exceeds one brief paragraph (excluding letterhead and salutations), is considered part of the Research Plan and is included in the 15-page Research Plan limit. Any transactions between the successful applicant and parties providing letters of intent or support financed with EPA grant funds are subject to the funding restrictions described in Section IV. D. as well.

    2. Funding Opportunity Number(s) (FON)

      At various places in the application, applicants are asked to identify the FON.

      The Funding Opportunity Number for this RFA is:
      Sustainable Chesapeake Research Centers, EPA-G2011-STAR-A1

    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 their application/proposal package as confidential business information. EPA will evaluate confidentiality claims in accordance with 40 CFR Part 2. Applicants must clearly mark applications/proposals or portions thereof that they claim as confidential. If no claim of confidentiality is made, EPA is not required to make the inquiry to the applicant otherwise required by 40 CFR 2.204(c)(2) prior to disclosure. However, competitive proposals/applications are considered confidential and protected from disclosure prior to the completion of the competitive selection process.

C. Submission Dates and Times
Applications must be transferred to Grants.gov no later than 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date.  Applications transferred 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 solicitation closing date, a new date will be posted on the NCER web site (http://epa.gov/ncer/rfa/)
and a modification posted on www.grants.gov. 

Solicitation Closing Date:  January 31, 2011, 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time (applications must be submitted to Grants.gov by this time, see Section IV.E “Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements” for further information).

NOTE: Customarily, applicants are notified about evaluation decisions within six months of the solicitation closing date.  Awards are generally made 9-12 months after the solicitation closing date.

D. Funding Restrictions
The funding mechanism for all awards issued under STAR solicitations will consist of assistance agreements from the EPA.  All award decisions are subject to the availability of funds.  In accordance with the Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act, 31 U.S.C. 6301 et seq., the primary purpose of an assistance agreement is to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by federal statute, rather than acquisition for the direct benefit or use of the Agency.  In issuing a grant, the EPA anticipates that there will be no substantial EPA involvement in the design, implementation, or conduct of the research.  However, the EPA will monitor research progress through annual reports provided by grantees and other contacts, including site visits, with the Principal Investigator(s).

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.

EPA awards funds to one eligible applicant as the recipient even if other eligible applicants are named as partners or co-applicants or members of a coalition or consortium.  The recipient is accountable to EPA for the proper expenditure of funds.

Funding may be used to provide subgrants or subawards of financial assistance, which includes using subawards or subgrants to fund partnerships,  provided the recipient complies with applicable requirements for subawards or subgrants including those contained in 40 CFR Parts 30 or 31, as appropriate.   Applicants must compete contracts for services and products, including consultant contracts, and conduct cost and price analyses to the extent required by the procurement provisions of the regulations at 40 CFR Parts 30 or 31, as appropriate. The regulations also contain limitations on consultant compensation. Applicants are not required to identify subawardees/subgrantees and/or contractors (including consultants) in their proposal/application.  However, if they do, the fact that an applicant selected for award has named a specific subawardee/subgrantee, contractor, or consultant in the proposal/application EPA selects for funding does not relieve the applicant of its obligations to comply with subaward/subgrant and/or competitive procurement requirements as appropriate.   Please note that applicants may not award sole source contracts to consulting, engineering or other firms assisting applicants with the proposal based solely on the firm's role in preparing the proposal/application. 

Successful applicants cannot use subgrants or subawards to avoid requirements in EPA grant regulations for competitive procurement by using these instruments to acquire commercial services or products from for-profit organizations to carry out its assistance agreement.  The nature of the transaction between the recipient and the subawardee or subgrantee must be consistent with the standards for distinguishing between vendor transactions and subrecipient assistance under Subpart B Section .210 of OMB Circular A-133, and the definitions of subaward at 40 CFR 30.2(ff) or subgrant at 40 CFR 31.3, as applicable. EPA will not be a party to these transactions.  Applicants acquiring commercial goods or services must comply with the competitive procurement standards in 40 CFR Part 30 or 40 CFR Part 31.36 and cannot use a subaward/subgrant as the funding mechanism.  

Section V of the announcement describes the evaluation criteria and evaluation process that will be used by EPA to make selections under this announcement.  During this evaluation, except for those criteria that relate to the applicant's own qualifications, past performance, and reporting history, the review panel will consider, if appropriate and relevant, the qualifications, expertise, and experience of:

  1. an applicant's named subawardees/subgrantees identified in the proposal/application if the applicant demonstrates in the proposal/application that if it receives an award that the subaward/subgrant will be properly awarded consistent with the applicable regulations in 40 CFR Parts 30 or 31.  For example, applicants must not use subawards/subgrants to obtain commercial services or products from for profit firms or individual consultants.
  2. an applicant's named contractor(s), including consultants, identified in the proposal/application if the applicant demonstrates in its proposal/application that the contractor(s) was selected in compliance with the competitive procurement standards in 40 CFR Part 30 or 40 CFR 31.36 as appropriate.  For example, an applicant must demonstrate that it selected the contractor(s) competitively or that a proper non-competitive sole-source award consistent with the regulations will be made to the contractor(s), that efforts were made to provide small and disadvantaged businesses with opportunities to compete, and that some form of cost or price analysis was conducted.   EPA may not accept sole source justifications for contracts for services or products that are otherwise readily available in the commercial marketplace.

EPA will not consider the qualifications, experience, and expertise of named subawardees/subgrantees and/or named contractor(s) during the proposal/application evaluation process unless the applicant complies with these requirements.

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

If you do not have the technical capability to utilize the Grants.gov application submission process for this solicitation, call 1-800-490-9194 or send a webmail message to http://www.epa.gov/ncer/contact_us.html at least 15 calendar days before the submission deadline to assure timely receipt of alternate submission instructions.  In your message  provide the funding opportunity number and title of the program, specify that you are requesting alternate submission instructions, and provide a telephone number, fax number, and an email address, if available.  Alternate instructions will be e-mailed whenever possible.  Any applications submitted through alternate submission methods must comply with all the provisions of this RFA, including Section IV, and be received by the solicitation closing date identified above.

Note:  Grants.gov submission instructions are updated on an as-needed basis.  Please provide your Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) with a copy of the following instructions to avoid submission delays that may occur from the use of outdated instructions.

  1. Preparing for Submission. The appropriate electronic application package available through the Grants.gov site must be used for electronic submissions. To begin the application process, go to http://www.grants.gov and click on the “Apply for Grants” tab on the left side of the page. Then click on “Apply Step 1: Download a Grant Application Package” to download the compatible Adobe viewer and obtain the application package. For more information on Adobe Reader please go to http://www.grants.gov/help/help.jsp.

    Note:Grants.gov is aware of a corruption issue when Adobe Reader application packages are saved in different versions of Adobe Reader. It is recommended that applicants uninstall earlier versions of Adobe Reader and then install the version available and compatible through Grants.gov.

    The application package may be quickly accessed from https://apply07.grants.gov/apply/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. Note: With the exception of the current and pending support form (available at http://epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms), all necessary forms are included in the electronic application package.

    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. 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. Note for organizations not currently registered: the registration process may take a week or longer to complete. We recommend you designate an AOR and begin the registration process as soon as possible.

    For more information, go to http://www.grants.gov and click on “Get Registered”.

  2. Acknowledgement of Receipt. The complete application must be transferred to Grants.gov no later than 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date (see “Submission Dates and Times”). Grants.gov provides 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 Lead/Contact PI 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 a. through d. below.
    1. Application for Federal Assistance (SF 424): Complete the form except for the “competition ID” field.
    2. EPA Key Contacts Form 5700-54: Complete the form. If additional pages are needed, see (d) below.
    3. SF-424A Budget Information for Non-Construction Programs: Only complete “Section B-Budget Categories”. Provide the object class budget category (a. - k.) amounts for each budget year under the “Grant Program, Function or Activity” heading. Each column reflects a separate budget year.
    4. Project Narrative Attachment Form (click on “Add Mandatory Project Narrative”): Attach a single electronic file labeled “Application” that contains the items described in Section IV.B.3. through IV.B.12.a (Table of Contents; Abstract; Center Description; Research Plan, Quality Assurance Statement, Data Plan, and References; Administrative Core; Facility Support Core(s); Budget and Budget Justification; Resumes; Current and Pending Support; and Letters of Intent/Support) of this solicitation. In order to maintain format integrity, 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://epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms) are needed, place them before the Table of Contents (Section IV.B.3.).

    Once the application package has been completed, the “Submit” button should be enabled. If the “Submit” button is not active, please call Grants.gov for assistance at 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 or a revised application needs to be submitted. Note: Revised applications must be submitted before the solicitation closing date and time.

  4. Submitting the application. 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 ensure that your application is submitted to Grants.gov BEFORE 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date. The Grants.gov support desk operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except Federal Holidays.

    A successful transfer will end with an on-screen acknowledgement. For documentation purposes, print or screen capture this acknowledgement. If a submission problem occurs, reboot the computer turning the power off may be necessary and re-attempt the submission.

    Note: Grants.gov issues a “case number” upon a request for assistance.

  5. Transmission Difficulties. If transmission difficulties that result in a late transmission, no transmission, or rejection of the transmitted application are experienced, and following the above instructions do not resolve the problem so that the application is submitted to Grants.Gov by the deadline date and time, follow the guidance below. The Agency will make a decision concerning each late submission on a case-by-case basis as to whether it should be forwarded for peer review. All e-mails, as described below, are to be sent to josephson.ron@epa.gov with the FON in the subject line.

    Please note that if the application you are submitting is greater than 70 MB in size, please call or send an e-mail message to the Electronic Submissions Contact listed for this RFA. The Agency may experience technical difficulty downloading files of this size from Grants.gov. Therefore, it is important that the Agency verify that the file can be downloaded. The Agency will provide alternate submission instructions if the file cannot be downloaded.

    1. If you are experiencing problems resulting in an inability to upload the application to Grants.gov, it is essential to call Grants.gov for assistance at 1-800-518-4726 before the application deadline. Be sure to obtain a case number from Grants.gov.
    2. Unsuccessful transfer of the application package: If a successful transfer of the application cannot be accomplished even with assistance from Grants.gov due to electronic submission issues, send an e-mail message by 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date. The email message must document the problem and include the Grants.gov case number as well as the entire application in PDF format as an attachment.
    3. Grants.gov rejection of the application package: If a notification is received from Grants.gov stating that the application has been rejected for reasons other than late submittal, promptly send an email that includes any materials provided by Grants.gov and attach the entire application in PDF format.

V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION

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-EPA scientists, engineers, social scientists, and/or economists who are accomplished in their respective disciplines and proficient in the technical subjects they are reviewing. Reviewers are asked to individually assign a score of excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor to each application. EPA translates the average of these individual scores into the final peer review score.

Individual external peer reviewers consider an application's merit based on the criteria below. Criteria 1-4 are listed in descending order of importance:

  1. Overall Center

    Applications will be evaluated based on the quality and extent to which the overall Center addresses the following criteria (criteria a, b, and c are equal).

    1. Interdisciplinary nature of the proposed research activities, integration of the projects around an overarching theme, and plans to effectively pursue interdisciplinary research objectives.
    2. Potential impact of the research in advancing the science on how to reduce stormwater inputs toand effects onChesapeake Bay.
    3. Capacity of the projects to result in a greater contribution to the overall goals of the Center than if each were pursued independently.
  2. Research Proposal

    Reviewers will evaluate each proposed research project to be performed by the Center based on the criteria below (criteria a d are listed in descending order of importance).

    1. Research Project (criteria "a.i" through "a.vi" are equal in importance):
      1. The originality and creativity of the proposed research, the appropriateness and adequacy of the proposed research methods, and the Quality Assurance Statement.
      2. Practical and technically defensible approach that can be performed within the proposed time period.
      3. Research contributes to scientific knowledge in the topic area.
      4. Projected benefits of the proposed activity to society, such as improving the environment or human health.
      5. The results are disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding.
      6. The proposal is 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. All key personnel must make a significant time commitment to the project.
    3. Responsiveness: The responsiveness of the proposal to the research needs identified for the research area. The proposal adequately addresses 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. Note any deficiencies that may interfere with the successful completion of the research.
  3. Administrative and Other Cores (criteria a e are equal in importance)
    1. Scientific and organizational structure of the Center. Are the lines of authority and administrative structure designed for effective Center management? How does the administrative structure maximize the Center's capability to take advantage of research opportunities?
    2. Qualifications, responsibilities, and effectiveness of senior leaders. The Principal Investigator/Center Director should be an established research scientist with the ability to ensure quality control and the experience to administer effectively and integrate all components of the Center. Is the percent effort appropriate?
    3. Duties and percent efforts of administrative staff of the Center in terms of their qualifications and contributions to the specialized needs and conduct of the Center's research activities.
    4. Effectiveness of the Center's internal planning and quality management activities. Plan for tracking and monitoring progress toward achieving expected results (outputs and outcomes) and ensuring project objectives are successfully achieved in a timely manner. Who is involved and what mechanisms are used? Are these activities documented?
    5. Nature and quality of facility cores, if proposed. Technical merit, justification, cost effectiveness, qualifications of staff, utility to investigators, and arrangements for internal quality control, allocation of resources, priority of usage, and day-to-day management.
  4. 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
Applications receiving final peer review scores of excellent or very good 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.

Those applicants who received final 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 PI’s (in the case of Multiple-PI applications, the Contact PI’s) "Past Performance and Reporting History."  The applicant must provide the EPA Project Officer with information on the proposed Lead/Contact PI's past performance and reporting history under prior Federal agency assistance agreements (assistance agreements include grants and cooperative agreements but not contracts) in terms of: (i) the level of success in managing and completing each agreement, and (ii) history of meeting the reporting requirements under each agreement.

This information is required only for the proposed Lead/Contact 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 three 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 managed and completed; if not successfully managed and completed, provide an explanation.
  6. Information relating to the proposed Lead/Contact 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 email address (if available).

The purpose of the programmatic review is to ensure 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/Contact PI's past performance [under Federal agency assistance agreements (assistance agreements include grants and cooperative agreements but not contracts) initiated within the last three years that were similar in size and scope to the proposed project] in two areas:  First, in successfully managing and completing these prior Federal assistance projects, including whether there is a satisfactory explanation for any lack of success.  Second, in reporting progress toward achieving results under these agreements, including the proposed Lead/Contact 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 toward achieving the results was not made will also be considered.  Applicants whose proposed Lead PI/Contact 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 role of sustainability practices in the proposed work, both in terms of how it will be conducted and how it achieves the overall goal of sustainable stormwater management.  Conduct might include such features as using minimal or recycled manufactured materials, using native stone rather than concrete, landscaping with native plant species, and no-to-minimal use of potentially hazardous materials.  Elements of sustainable stormwater management could include, for instance: low maintenance, design adapted to the surrounding ecosystem and community, and design that accommodates uncertainty associated with climate change.

C. Funding Decisions
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 and available funds.  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 and Interagency Agreement Management Division for award in accordance with the EPA’s procedures.

VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

A. Award Notices
Customarily, applicants are notified about evaluation decisions within six months of the solicitation closing date.  A Peer Review Results document summarizing the scientific review 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 and/or submit a revised budget.  EPA Project Officers will contact the Lead PI/Contact PI 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 Sections 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 (10 pp, 42 K)). 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 and Interagency Agreement Management 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.

B. Disputes
Disputes related to this assistance agreement competition will be resolved in accordance with the dispute resolution procedures set forth in 70 FR 3629, 3630 (January 26, 2005) which can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ogd/competition/resolution.htm.  Questions regarding disputes may be referred to the Eligibility Contact identified below.

C. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
Expectations and responsibilities of NCER grantees and cooperative agreement holders are summarized in this section, although the terms grant and grantee are used. See http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance for the full terms and conditions associated with an award, including which activities require prior approval from the EPA.

  1. Meetings: Principal Investigators will be expected to budget for, and participate in, All-Investigators Meetings (also known as progress reviews) approximately once per year with EPA scientists and other grantees to report on research activities and discuss issues of mutual interest.
  2. Approval of Changes after Award: Prior written approval of the changes may be required from EPA. Examples of these changes are contained in 40 C.F.R. 30.25. Note: prior written approval is also required from the EPA Award Official 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 CFR § 26. Studies involving intentional exposure of human subjects who are children or pregnant or nursing women are prohibited by Subpart B of 40 CFR § 26. For observational studies involving children or pregnant women and fetuses please refer to Subparts C & D of 40 CFR § 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 CFR § 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/exmural.html#genreqts. 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 located at 2 CFR Part 215 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 EPA Support: EPA's full or partial support must be acknowledged in journal articles, oral or poster presentations, news releases, interviews with reporters and other communications. Any documents developed under this agreement that are intended for distribution to the public or inclusion in a scientific, technical, or other journal shall include the following statement or another as specified by EPA's project officer:
      This publication [article] was made possible by EPA grant number _______. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the grantee and do not necessarily represent the official views of the EPA. Further, the EPA does not endorse the purchase of any commercial products or services mentioned in the publication.

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

  8. Coordination After Grant Award:
    1. Integration Between Centers - Coordination and collaboration can foster better scientific understanding, increase productivity, and enhance collegiality. EPA's experience has shown that integration among Centers requires commitment, time and effort.

      Within three months of the award, the Sustainable Chesapeake Research Centers will form a Coordination Committee that will consult quarterly to exchange ideas, research needs, protocols, and other information. The group will identify research areas that would benefit from harmonization, joint workshops, sharing of data, samples, expertise or technologies. EPA anticipates that the Coordination Committee will discuss and act on some areas of shared interest, and that subcommittees may be formed as needed to address more specialized topics. EPA scientists will participate in joint working groups as appropriate.  To support these activities, Centers will participate in annual Centers meetings to review research progress and in workshops on specific research topics.  The Administrative Core must allocate sufficient funding to host one and participate in two biennial Centers meetings to review research progress.

    2. Communications - Centers are expected to develop and maintain Center web sites, communicate key findings at annual scientific conferences, and participate in annual EPA investigators meetings. The Centers will each produce annual progress reports and a final report at the end of the grant period. Throughout the four-year period, project summaries and final results will be provided in a format compatible with broader efforts to compile and synthesize the large amounts of information on air pollutants.  In addition, the Centers are expected to cooperate in the production of an integrated, interim report of progress midway through the grant cycle and a final report of findings at the conclusion of the grant.
    3. Science Advisory Committee (SAC) - After award, each Center must establish a SAC. The SAC membership will typically consist of five to seven peers selected from the academic, private and public sectors. The function of the SAC is to assist in evaluating the (1) merit, value and contribution of existing and future research projects, and (2) relevance and importance of the individual research elements to accomplishing the overall goals of the Center. Within 90 days of the award, the Principal Investigator must submit a list of nominees for the SAC to the Project Officer. Potential SAC members must NOT be contacted, identified, or queried prior to receipt of the award.

      Each Center will hold a meeting with its SAC annually. Upon receiving the written recommendations from the SAC, the Center director shall submit a formal letter to EPA and the SAC chair with its response to the SAC comments and, if appropriate, a plan for how the Center will implement the SAC recommendations.

  9. Subaward and Executive Compensation Reporting: Applicants must ensure that they have the necessary processes and systems in place to comply with the subaward and executive total compensation reporting requirements established under OMB guidance at 2 CFR Part 170, unless they qualify for an exception from the requirements, should they be selected for funding.
  10. Central Contractor Registration (CCR) and Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Requirements: Unless exempt from these requirements under OMB guidance at 2 CFR Part 25 (e.g., individuals), applicants must:
    1. Be registered in the CCR prior to submitting an application or proposal under this announcement. CCR information can be found at https://www.bpn.gov/ccr/
    2. Maintain an active CCR registration with current information at all times during which it has an active Federal award or an application or proposal under consideration by an agency, and
    3. Provide its DUNS number in each application or proposal it submits to the agency. Applicants can receive a DUNS number, at no cost, by calling the dedicated toll-free DUNS Number request line at 1-866-705-5711, or visiting the D&B website at: http://www.dnb.com exit EPA.

      If an applicant fails to comply with these requirements, it will, should it be selected for award, affect their ability to receive the award.

  11. 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 www.exchangenetwork.net exit EPA.

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: James Gentry (gentry.james@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8093
Electronic Submissions: Ron Josephson (josephson.ron@epa.gov); phone: 703-308-0442
Technical Contact: Anne Sergeant (sergeant.anne@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8105

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