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Extramural Research

Funding Opportunities

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory

CLOSED - FOR REFERENCES PURPOSES ONLY

Cooperative Training Partnership in Environmental Health Sciences Research


This is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity.

Funding Opportunity Number: EPA-G2014-ORD-T1

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 66.511

Solicitation Opening Date: November 1, 2013
Solicitation Closing Date: January 14, 2014, 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time

Eligibility Contact: Ron Josephson (josephson.ron@epa.gov); phone: 703-308-0442
Electronic Submissions: Todd Peterson (peterson.todd@epa.gov); phone: 703-308-7224
Technical Contact: Vanessa O'Neal (oneal.vanessa@epa.gov); phone: 919-541-5680

Table of Contents:
SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
Synopsis of Program
Award Information
Eligibility Information
Application Materials
Agency Contacts
I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION
A. Introduction/Background
B. Authority and Regulations
C. Specific Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes
D. 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. Technical Review
B. Funding Decisions
VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION
A. Award Notices
B. Disputes
C. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

Synopsis of Program:
The mission of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to protect human health and the environment. The EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) conducts timely mission-relevant solution-oriented research based on the principles of integrity, sustainability, and responsiveness to the needs of the Nation.  The research products and outputs are utilized by the EPA to better determine toxicological hazards, define dose-response relationships, and estimate human exposure characteristics in support of the Agency’s responsibility to provide risk assessment, policy analysis, regulatory standards for environmental hazards, and contribute to sustainable solutions to the Nation’s greatest environmental concerns. EPA’s ORD seeks applications to enter into cooperative agreements that will provide training opportunities for undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows on-site at EPA’s Research Triangle Park and/or Chapel Hill, North Carolina research facilities.

Award Information:
Anticipated Type of Award: Cooperative agreement
Estimated Number of Awards: Up to 3 awards
Anticipated Funding Amount: Up to $3 million total for all awards
Potential Funding per Award: Up to a total of $3,000,000, including direct and indirect costs, with a maximum duration of 3 years.  If more than one application is selected for award, the amount of available funding for each award may be less than $3 million.
Cost-sharing is not required.  Proposals with budgets exceeding the total award limits will not be considered.

Eligibility Information:
These programs are available to each State, territory and possession, and Tribal nation of the U.S., including the District of Columbia, for public and private State universities and colleges, hospitals, laboratories, State and local government departments, other public or private nonprofit institutions, and in some cases, individuals or foreign entities. Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive assistance agreements from the EPA under this program.

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, Forms and Standard Instructions Download Page.

If your organization is not currently registered with Grants.gov, you need to allow approximately one month to complete the registration process. Please note that the registration process also requires that your organization have a DUNS number and a current registration with the System for Award Management (SAM) and the process of obtaining both could take a month or more.  Applicants must ensure that all registration requirements are met in order to apply for this opportunity through grants.gov and should ensure that all such requirements have been met well in advance of the submission deadline.  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, send a webmail message 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 emailed 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: Ron Josephson (josephson.ron@epa.gov); phone: 703-308-0442
Electronic Submissions: Todd Peterson (peterson.todd@epa.gov); phone: 703-308-7224
Technical Contact: Vanessa O'Neal (oneal.vanessa@epa.gov); phone: 919-541-5680

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

A. Introduction/Background
There is a national need to train scientists in environmental fields and to increase public understanding and knowledge in the environmental health sciences. The purpose of the assistance agreements to be supported under this RFA is to provide training opportunities for candidates whose areas of interest coincide with and/or complement ongoing research at ORD i.e., Toxicology (including Neurotoxicology, Cardiopulmonary and Immunotoxicology, Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology, Computational Toxicology and Systems Toxicology), Pharmacokinetics, Carcinogenesis, Environmental Epidemiology and Clinical Research, Biostatistics/Modeling, Sustainability and Systems Thinking, Risk and Exposure Assessment, Emissions Estimation, Life Cycle Analyses, and Risk Management and Mitigation.  ORD seeks to establish a long-term Training Cooperative Partnership with an eligible applicant capable of managing an environmental training program. It is anticipated that up to three cooperative agreements will be awarded to an eligible applicant or consortium of eligible applicants from this solicitation. It is envisioned that this training program will be modeled after the highly successful training arrangements which already exist at various US universities and colleges, with modifications to include active participation of EPA scientists as mentors with university scientists. Collaborations and consortiums are encouraged.

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

Goal 1. Taking Action on Climate Change and Improving Air Quality, Objective 1.1: Address Climate Change , Objective 1.2: Improve Air Quality;
Goal 2. Protecting America’s Waters, Objective 2.1: Protect Human Health, Objective 2.2: Protect and Restore Watersheds and Aquatic Ecosystems;
Goal 3. Cleaning Up Communities and Advancing Sustainable Development, Objective 3.1: Promote Sustainable and Livable Communities;
Goal 4. Ensuring the Safety of Chemicals and Preventing Pollution, Objective 4.1: Ensure Chemical Safety

More information can be found in EPA’s FY 2011-2015 Strategic Plan

B. Authority and Regulations
The authority for this RFA and resulting awards is contained in the Safe Drinking Water Act, Section 1442, 42 U.S.C. 300j-1; the Toxic Substances Control Act, Section 10, 15 U.S.C. 2609; the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, Section 20, 7 U.S.C. 136r; the Clean Air Act, Section 103, 42 U.S.C. 7403; the Clean Water Act, Section 104, 33 U.S.C. 1254; and the Solid Waste Disposal Act, Section 8001, 42 U.S.C. 6981.

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 45 (Training Assistance).  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, and OMB Circular A-122 (Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations) relocated to 2 CFR Part 230.

C. Specific Research Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes
Note to applicant:  The term “output” means an environmental activity or effort, and associated work projects, 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 activities that is related to an environmental, behavioral, or health-related objective.

The purpose of this RFA is to solicit applications for cooperative agreements between the Office of Research and Development (ORD), National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory of the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), and eligible applicants as described in Section III below, to train students and postdoctoral scientists in environmental sciences.  The objectives of the cooperative agreements to be awarded under this RFA are to administer and conduct the training of postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduate students in areas of environmental research with a focus on increasing public knowledge and training new scientists. The opportunity to gain research experience with senior scientists at one of the US EPA's premier environmental laboratories in the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina locations should enhance the experience and capabilities of students and position them to become leaders within the environmental health scientific community.

The partnership between a successful institution and ORD would benefit the public by training a new generation of environmental health scientists. Cooperative training experience with scientists at the ORD laboratories could also provide a benefit to University faculty to access a broad range of knowledge, experience, and laboratory resources not normally available in a single academic environment. There will be an expectation that mentorship of students and postdoctoral scientists will be an active cooperative effort shared by EPA researchers and university faculty advisors, typically, but not exclusively.  Training in professional scientific ethics and quality assurance will typically be provided both by the university and EPA programs.  Cooperative training experience might include, for example, problem and hypothesis formulation, experimental design, experiments conducted in the field or at the EPA laboratory facilities, data analysis, and quality assurance, reporting, presenting results and manuscript development and publication. Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers would be expected to present their research results in at least one regional or national level scientific conference.

The outputs from these cooperative agreements will be opportunities for training candidates affiliated with eligible institutions.  In addition, the candidates will receive financial assistance during their training and will have access to highly specialized laboratory facilities and equipment. The trainees are also provided the opportunity for specific mentoring/guidance by nationally/internationally recognized scientists at ORD.

An outcome of these cooperative agreements will be an increase in the knowledge and experience of the trainees as well as a strengthened scientific foundation to better understand toxicological hazards, dose-response relationships, and estimation of human exposure characteristics.  This enhanced knowledge and hands on experience will enable trainees to discover sustainable solutions to solve current and future environmental health challenges and result in a trained workforce that will support EPA's mission and strategic goals.

To the extent practicable, proposals must embody innovation and sustainability.  Innovation for the purposes of this RFA is defined as the process of making changes; a new method, custom or device.  Innovative projects can take the form of wholly new applications or applications that build on existing knowledge and approaches for new uses.  Proposals must include a discussion on how the proposed project is innovative (see Section IV.B.5).  The concept of sustainability is based on language in the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA).  This definition is reiterated in Executive Order 13514, Federal Leadership in Environment, Energy, and Economic Performance, stating that the goal of sustainability is to, “create and maintain conditions, under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations.” Proposals must include a discussion on how the proposed project will seek sustainable solutions that protect the environment and strengthen our communities (see Section IV.B.5).  ORD will draw from all of the above-mentioned innovation and sustainability definitions in the review/evaluation process of recommending proposals (see Section V.A).

D. 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.

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

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. 

II. AWARD INFORMATION

It is anticipated that a total of up to $3 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 up to three awards under this RFA.  Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $3,000,000 (not including voluntary cost share), including direct and indirect costs, will not be considered.  If more than one application is selected for award, the amount of available funding for each award may be less than $3M.  The total project period requested in an application submitted for this RFA may not exceed 3 years. 

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

In appropriate circumstances, EPA reserves the right to partially fund proposals/applications by funding discrete portions or phases of proposed projects. If EPA decides to partially fund a proposal/application, it will do so in a manner that does not prejudice any applicants or affect the basis upon which the proposal/application, or portion thereof, was evaluated and selected for award, and therefore maintains the integrity of the competition and selection process.

The Agency anticipates funding in the form of a cooperative agreement.  Cooperative agreements permit substantial involvement between the EPA and the selected applicants in the performance of the work supported.  Although EPA will negotiate precise terms and conditions relating to substantial involvement as part of the award process, EPA anticipates substantial involvement as follows:

  1. Senior scientists ORD-wide, in partnership with university faculty, will serve as training mentors for the students and postdoctoral scientists. EPA researchers will partner with the successful university in placing high quality student and postdoctoral candidates who meet the academic standards of the university at EPA research facilities in North Carolina.
  2. EPA mentors will work with university mentors to coordinate extramural student activities with relevant in-house research training activities.
  3. EPA research mentors will participate with university faculty mentors in assisting students and postdoctoral scientists in development and preparation of written materials, such as journal articles and other products from these training activities.
  4. The EPA project officer will provide technical input on a regular basis through scheduled meetings to oversee this training program. 

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

III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

A. Eligible Applicants
These programs are available to each State, territory and possession, and Tribal nation of the U.S., including the District of Columbia, for public and private State universities and colleges, hospitals, laboratories, State and local government departments, other public or private nonprofit institutions, and in some cases, individuals or foreign entities. 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, 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 Ron Josephson (josephson.ron@epa.gov), phone: 703-308-0442.

B. Cost-Sharing
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. For details on EPA’s cost sharing requirements see 40 CFR Part 30.23 or 40 CFR Part 31.24.

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 through grants.gov or by other authorized alternate means (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.

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

IV. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

Additional provisions that apply to this solicitation and/or awards made under this solicitation, including but not limited to those related to confidential business information, contracts and subawards under grants/cooperative agreements, and proposal assistance and communications, can be found at Fiscal Year 2010 Competitive Grant Awards

These, and the other provisions that can be found at the website link, are important, and applicants must review them when preparing applications for this solicitation.   If you are unable to access these provisions electronically at the website above, please communicate with the EPA contact listed in this solicitation to obtain the provisions.

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 Forms and Standard Instructions Download Page), all necessary forms are included in the electronic application package.

An email will be sent by EPA to the Principal Investigator (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.  

  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 SF424, 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 Dun and Bradstreet Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer.

    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 Intergovernmental Review (SPOC List). If an applicant is in a State that does not have a SPOC, or the State has not selected research and development projects 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 Forms and Standard Instructions Download Page. 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.

  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)

    It is critical that the abstract accurately describes the work being proposed and conveys all the essential elements of the proposal.

    The abstract should include the information described below (a-g).

    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: List the PI, then the name(s) of each co-PI who will significantly contribute to the project. Provide a web site URL or an email contact address for additional information.
    4. Institution(s): 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 performance site(s)/geographical location(s) where the work will be conducted.
    6. Project Cost: Show the total funding requested from the EPA (include direct and indirect costs for all years).
    7. Project Summary: Provide two subsections addressing: (1) the objectives of the project, and (2) the expected results (outputs/outcomes) of the project and how it addresses the needs identified in the solicitation.
  5. Project Narrative (30 pages)

    The Project Narrative is the technical proposal that discusses the technical approach and organizational capabilities for accomplishing the goals stated under Section I. C. Specific Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes above. It must also address all of the technical and programmatic review criteria described in Section V of the announcement.

    The narrative must not exceed thirty (30) consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced, standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins. While these guidelines establish the minimum type size requirements, applicants are advised that readability is of paramount importance and should take precedence in selection of an appropriate font for use in the proposal. The page limitation shall include all text, tables, figures, references, attachments, and appendices.

    The project narrative should provide the following information:

    1. The proposed approach for partnership with ORD on collaborative training of students (postdoctoral, graduate, undergraduate).
    2. The proposed approach for recruiting students and postdoctoral scientists of high quality and ability.
    3. The proposed approach for developing model student programs to balance on-campus coursework and other activities while leaving sufficient research time.
    4. The scientific and educational merit and relevance of the research training mechanism proposed. Relevance to EPA’s objectives and priorities of supporting the advancement of environmental science.
    5. Innovation: Description of how the project shifts current research/training or engineering paradigms by using innovative theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation or interventions applicable to one or more fields of research/training.
    6. Sustainability: Description of how the project embodies the principles of sustainability and seeks sustainable solutions that protect the environment and strengthen our communities. The sustainability primer (PDF) (2 pp, 195 K) provides examples of activities that promote and incorporate sustainability principles.
    7. Institutional capability: experience and understanding of the management needs for this program, including recruitment of students, placement into the program, for mentoring students and postdoctoral scientists in partnership with EPA senior research staff, and student progress review.
    8. The results expected to be achieved during the project (outputs) and the potential benefits of the results (outcomes). The plan for tracking and measuring progress toward achieving the expected environmental outputs and outcomes including those identified in Section I.
    9. The qualifications and competence of proposed key personnel and adequacy of their time commitment to the project.
    10. Project schedules with associated milestones and target dates for completion.
    11. The approach, procedures, and controls for ensuring that awarded assistance funds will be expended in a timely and efficient manner and how project objectives will be successfully achieved within the project period.
    12. Cost-effectiveness of the budget structure. The project budget makes the most efficient use of Agency funds in collaborative training of students (postdoctoral, graduate undergraduate), for instance by minimizing direct costs for administrative support.
    13. Facilities and resources available for the project.
    14. Past Performance and Reporting History. The applicant shall provide information on the proposed Principal Investigator’s (PI's) past performance and reporting history under prior Federal and/or non-Federal 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 and documenting progress towards achieving the expected results under each agreement.

    The past performance and reporting history information is required only for the proposed PI's performance under federally and/or non-federally funded assistance agreements (assistance agreements include grants and cooperative agreements but not contracts) similar in size, scope and relevance to the proposed project that the proposed PI performed within the last three years.

    The specific information required for each agreement is shown below.

    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, scope and relevance 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 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).

    In evaluating applicants under these factors in Section V, EPA will consider the information provided by the applicant and may also consider relevant information from other sources, including information from EPA files and from current and prior Federal agency grantors (e.g.; to verify and/or supplement the information provided by the applicant). If you do not have any relevant or available past performance or reporting information, please indicate this in the proposal and you will receive a neutral score for these factors under Section V. If you do not provide any response for these items, you may receive a score of 0 for these factors.

  6. 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 Forms and Standard Instructions Download Page. 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 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 refer to Contracts and Subawards 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.

    2. Budget Justification [2 pages in addition to the Section IV.B.5. page limitations, not including additions under No. (7) below to support subawards]

      Describe the basis for calculating the personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, and other costs identified in the SF-424A. 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, total cost for the budget period, and project role. Compensation paid for employees engaged in cooperative agreement activities must be consistent with payments for similar work within the applicant organization. Note that for salaries to be allowable as a direct charge to the award, a justification of how that person will be directly involved in the project must be provided. General administrative duties such as answering telephones, filing, typing, or accounting duties are not considered acceptable.

        Below is a sample computation for Personnel:

        Position/Title Annual Salary % of Time Assigned to Project Cost
        Project Manager $70,000 50% $ 35,000
        Env. Specialist $60,000 100% $ 60,000
        Env. Health Tech $45,000 100% $ 45,000
        Total Personnel $140,000

        Note this budget category is limited to persons employed by the applicant organization ONLY. Those employed elsewhere are classified as subawardees, contractors or consultants. Contractors and consultants should be listed under the “Contractual” budget heading while subawards made to eligible subrecipients are listed under the “Other” budget heading.

      2. Fringe Benefits: Identify the percentage used and the basis for its computation. Fringe benefits are for the personnel listed in budget category (1) above and only for the percentage of time devoted to the project. Fringe benefits include but are not limited to the cost of leave, employee insurance, pensions and unemployment benefit plans. The applicant should not combine the fringe benefit costs with direct salaries and wages in the personnel category.

      3. Travel: Specify the estimated number of trips, purpose of each trip, number of travelers per trip, destinations, and other costs for each type of travel. Explain the need for any travel, paying particular attention to travel outside the United States.

        Below is a sample computation for Travel:

        Purpose of Travel Location Item Computation Cost
        Meeting DC Lodging 4 people x $100 per night
        x 2 nights
        $800
        Airfare 4 people x $500 round trip $2,000
        Per Diem 4 people x $50 per day
        x 2 days
        $400
        Total Travel $3,200

      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. Details such as the type of equipment, cost, and a brief narrative on the intended use of the equipment for project objectives are required. Each item of equipment must be identified with the corresponding cost. General-purpose equipment (office equipment, etc.) must be justified as to how it will be used on the project. (Property items with a unit cost of less than $5,000 are considered supplies.)

      5. Supplies: “Supplies” means tangible property other than “equipment.” Identify supplies to be used under the project. This may include: software, office supplies, and laboratory supplies such as reagents, chemicals and glassware. 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 CFR Part 30.40-30.48 or 40 CFR 31.36, as appropriate. Please see Contracts and Subawards for more details.

        Examples of Contractual costs include:

        1. Consultants – Consultants are individuals with specialized skills who are paid at a daily or hourly rate. EPA’s participation in the salary rate (excluding overhead) paid to individual consultants retained by recipients or by a recipient's contractors or subcontractors is limited to the maximum daily rate for a Level IV of the Executive Schedule (formerly GS-18), to be adjusted annually.
        2. Equipment Rental – When there is a need to rent equipment for use on the project, provide information on the type of equipment to be rented, the purpose or use on the project, the length of time needed and the rental rate. Renting or leasing of equipment will require a lease vs. purchase cost analysis prior to approval.
        3. Facility Rental – When it is necessary to rent office or other facilities spaces for project implementation, and the space(s) are located off-site from the organization’s main facility in space not owned by the applicant organization, the cost of the rent may be charged against the award as a contractual expense if the space is used specifically for the project. The budget justifications should provide details on the monthly rental charge and if the rent is pro-rated to the project.
        4. Service or Maintenance Contracts – Costs should be in direct correlation to the use of the equipment for the project (i.e., if a particular machine is used 50% of the time for the project, the project should only be charged 50% of the service/maintenance costs). Provide details of the type of equipment and the amount of the service contract to be paid from EPA funds.
        5. Speaker/Trainer Fees – Information on speakers should include the fee and a description of the services they are providing.
      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. “Other” items may include publication costs, long distance telephone charges, and photocopying costs. 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 424A and budget justification, not to exceed one additional page each. Subawards may not be used to acquire services from consultants or commercial firms. Please see Contracts and Subawards for more details.

      8. Indirect Costs: Indirect costs are those incurred by the applicant for a common or joint purpose that benefit more than one cost objective or project, and are not readily assignable to specific cost objectives or projects as a direct cost. In order for indirect costs to be allowable, the applicant must have a negotiated indirect cost rate (e.g., fixed, predetermined, final or provisional), or must have submitted a proposal to their cognizant agency. If indirect costs are included in the budget, identify the cognizant agency and the approved indirect rate. If your organization does not have a cognizant agency, please note that in the budget justification and provide a brief explanation for how you calculated your indirect cost rate.

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

  8. Current and Pending Support

    Complete a current and pending support form (provided at Forms and Standard Instructions Download Page) 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 a 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.
  9. Guidelines, Limitations, and Additional Requirements

    1. Letters of Intent/Letters of Support

      Letters of intent to provide resources for the proposed research or to document intended interactions are limited to one brief paragraph committing the availability of a resource (e.g., use of a person's time or equipment) or intended interaction (e.g., sharing of data, as-needed consultation) that is described in the Project Narrative. 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 Project Narrative and is included in the 30-page Project Narrative limit. Any transactions between the successful applicant and parties providing letters of intent or support financed with EPA assistance funds are subject to the contract and subaward requirements described here Contracts and Subawards.

    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:
      Cooperative Training Partnership in Environmental Health Sciences Research, EPA-G2014-ORD-T1

    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.

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.  EPA will not accept any changes to applications after the closing date.

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 (Funding Opportunities) and a modification posted on Grants.gov. 

Solicitation Closing Date: January 14, 2014, 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).

D. Funding Restrictions
The funding mechanism for all awards issued under ORD 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. 

If you wish to submit applications for more than one ORD funding opportunity you must ensure that the work proposed in each application is significantly different from any other that has been submitted to the EPA or from any other financial assistance you are currently receiving from the EPA or other federal government agency.

Collaborative applications involving more than one institution must be submitted as a single administrative package from one of the institutions involved.

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

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, send a webmail message 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 emailed 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 electronic submission of your application must be made by an official representative of your institution who is registered with Grants.gov and is authorized to sign applications for Federal assistance. For more information on the registration requirements that must be completed in order to submit an application through grants.gov, go to Grants.gov and click on “Applicants” on the top of the page and then go to the “Get Registered” link on the page. If your organization is not currently registered with Grants.gov, please encourage your office to designate an Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) and ask that individual to begin the registration process as soon as possible. Please note that the registration process also requires that your organization have a DUNS number and a current registration with the System for Award Management (SAM) and the process of obtaining both could take a month or more.  Applicants must ensure that all registration requirements are met in order to apply for this opportunity through grants.gov and should ensure that all such requirements have been met well in advance of the submission deadline.  Registration on grants.gov, SAM.gov, and DUNS number assignment is FREE.

    To begin the application process under this announcement, go to Grants.gov and click on “Applicants” on the top of the page and then “Apply for Grants” from the dropdown menu and then follow the instructions accordingly. Please note: To apply through grants.gov, you must use Adobe Reader software and download the compatible Adobe Reader version. For more information about Adobe Reader, to verify compatibility, or to download the free software, please visit Adobe Reader Compatibility

    You may also be able to access the application package for this announcement by searching for the opportunity on Grants.gov.   Go to Grants.gov and then click on “Search Grants” at the top of the page and enter the Funding Opportunity Number, EPA-G2014-ORD-T1, or the CFDA number that applies to the announcement (CFDA 66.511), in the appropriate field and click the Search button. Alternatively, you may be able to access the application package by clicking on the Application Package button at the top right of the synopsis page for the announcement on Grants.gov.  To find the synopsis page, go to Grants.gov and click “Browse Agencies” in the middle of the page and then go to “Environmental Protection Agency” to find the EPA funding opportunities.

  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”).  Applications submitted through grants.gov will be time and date stamped electronically. Grants.gov provides an on-screen notification of successful initial transfer as well as an email 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 email acknowledgement sent by NCER to the 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 receipt.application@epa.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.  Your organization’s AOR must submit your complete application package electronically to EPA through Grants.gov (Grants.gov) no later than Month dd, 20yy, 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time. Please allow for enough time to successfully submit your application process and allow for unexpected errors that may require you to resubmit.

    Please submit all of the application materials described below using the grants.gov application package that you downloaded using the instructions above. For additional instructions on completing and submitting the electronic application package, click on the “Show Instructions” tab that is accessible within the application package itself. 

    The application package consists of the following mandatory documents. 

    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 PDF file labeled “Application” that contains the items described in Section IV.B.3. through IV.B.9.a (Table of Contents, Abstract, Project Narrative, 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 Forms and Standard Instructions Download Page) are needed, place them before the Table of Contents (Section IV.B.3.).

    Please note that applicants are limited to using the following characters in all attachment file names.  Valid file names may only include the following UTF-8 characters: 
    A-Z, a-z, 0-9, underscore ( _ ), hyphen (-), space, period. If applicants use any other characters when naming their attachment files their applications will be rejected by grants.gov.

    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.  Applicants who are outside the U.S. at the time of submittal and are not able to access the toll-free number may reach a Grants.gov representative by calling 606-545-5035.  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 emails, as described below, are to be sent to peterson.todd@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 email 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.  Applicants who are outside the U.S. at the time of submittal and are not able to access the toll-free number may reach a Grants.gov representative by calling 606-545-5035.  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 email 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 to Todd Peterson (peterson.todd@epa.gov) with the FON in the subject line within one business day of the closing date of this solicitation.  The email should include any materials provided by Grants.gov and attach the entire application in PDF format.

V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION

A. Technical Review
All eligible grant applications will be reviewed by a minimum of at least one by EPA reviewer based on the criteria and process described below.  The purpose is to evaluate the scientific merit of the proposal and the capability of the applicant to complete the project as proposed.  The EPA reviewer(s) will review the application against the criteria below and rank the application based upon this evaluation.

The following criteria will be used in the evaluation process:

  1. Proposed approach for partnership with ORD on collaborative training of students (postdoctoral, graduate, undergraduate)…………………………………………. (20%)
  2. Proposed approach for recruiting students and postdoctoral scientists of high quality and ability ……………………………………………………………………………. (10%)
  3. Proposed approach for development of model student programs to balance on-campus coursework and other activities while leaving sufficient research time. Scientific and educational merit and relevance to the research training mechanism proposed. Relevance to EPA’s objectives and priorities of supporting the advancement of environmental science.                ………………………………………………………………………………………... (20%)
  4. The quality and extent to which the proposed project challenges and seeks to shift current research/training or engineering paradigms by using innovative theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation or interventions applicable to one or more fields of research/training……………………………………………………………..(5%)
  5. The quality and extent to which the proposed project embodies the principles of sustainability and seeks sustainable solutions that protect the environment and strengthen our communities.  The sustainability primer (PDF) (2 pp, 195 K) provides examples of activities that promote and incorporate sustainability principles..…………………..(5%)
  6. Institutional capability: Experience and understanding of the management needs for this program, including recruiting students, placement into the program for mentoring students and postdoctoral scientists in partnership with EPA senior research staff, and student progress review…………………... ……………………………………………………(5%)
  7. Results expected to be achieved during the project (outputs) and the potential benefits of the results (outcomes).  The plan for tracking and measuring progress toward achieving the expected environmental outputs and outcomes including those identified in Section I. (5%)
  8. The qualifications and competence of proposed key personnel and adequacy of their time commitment to the project…………………………………………………..……....….(5%)
  9. The quality and extent to which the approach, procedures, and controls for ensuring timely and efficient expenditure of awarded assistance funds are well defined and acceptable. The approach for ensuring successful achievement of project objectives is adequate and in accordance with the narrative’s project schedule and milestones; the budget structure is cost-effective, including how the project budget makes the most efficient use of Agency funds in collaborative training of students (postdoctoral, graduate undergraduate), for instance by minimizing direct costs for administrative support……………………..(10%)
  10. 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 project……………………………………………………………………………….(10%)
  11. Past Performance and Reporting History……………………………………………...(5%)

The EPA will evaluate the proposed PI's past performance under prior Federal and/or non-Federal assistance agreements (assistance agreements include grants and cooperative agreements but not contracts) performed within the last three years that were similar in size, scope and relevance to the proposed project in two areas:  First, in successfully managing and completing these prior assistance projects, including whether there is a satisfactory explanation for any lack of success.  Second, in reporting progress toward achieving results (outputs/outcomes) under these agreements, including the proposed PI's history of submitting timely progress/final technical reports that adequately describe the progress toward achieving the expected results under the agreements.  Any explanation of why progress toward achieving the results was not made will also be considered.

If the proposed PI has no relevant or available past performance and/or reporting information, the applicant will be given a neutral rating for those criteria.  In evaluating applicants under this criterion the Agency may consider information from other sources including agency files and prior/current grantors (e.g., to verify and/or supplement the information provided by the applicant).

B. Funding Decisions
Reviewers will evaluate, score, and rank eligible proposals using the criteria in Section V.A. above. The ranked list will be submitted to ORD management.  Final funding decisions are made by ORD management. In making the final funding decisions, ORD management will use the ranked list and 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
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 EPA technical reviewers and/or submit a revised budget.  The EPA Project Officer will contact the PI to obtain these materials. 

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 ORD management does not guarantee an award will be made.  For example, statutory authorization, funding, or other issues discovered during the award process may affect the ability of EPA to make an award to an applicant.  The award notice, signed by an EPA grants officer, is the authorizing document and will be provided through electronic or postal mail.

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 Dispute Resolution Procedures.  Questions regarding disputes may be referred to the Eligibility Contact identified below.

C. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
Additional provisions that apply to this solicitation and/or awards made under this solicitation, including but not limited to those related to DUNS, SAM, copyrights, disputes, and administrative capability, can be found at Contracts and Subawards

These, and the other provisions that can be found at the website link, are important, and applicants must review them when preparing applications for this solicitation.  If you are unable to access these provisions electronically at the website above, please communicate with the EPA contact listed in this solicitation to obtain the provisions.

Expectations and responsibilities of ORD cooperative agreement holders are summarized in this section. 

  1. Approval of Changes after Award: Prior written approval of 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.

  2. Human Subjects: An 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 Part 26.  Studies involving intentional exposure of human subjects who are children or pregnant or nursing women are prohibited by Subpart B of 40 CFR Part 26.  For observational studies involving children or pregnant women and fetuses please refer to Subparts C & D of 40 CFR Part 26.  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulations at 45 CFR Part 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 Part 26 is such a pertinent Federal regulation.  Therefore, the applicant's Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval must state that the applicant's study meets the EPA's regulations at 40 CFR Part 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. 

    Guidance and training for investigators conducting EPA-funded research involving human subjects may be obtained here:
    Ethics, Regulations, and Policies
    Human Subjects Research at the Environmental Protection Agency: Ethical Standards and Regulatory Requirements

  3. Data Access and Information Release: After award, all data first produced under the award must be made available to the ORD 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 ORD Project Officer in a standard exchange format no later than the due date of the cooperative agreement'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 EPA Information Quality Guidelines (EPA IQG).  These procedures may apply to data generated by recipients if those data are disseminated as described in the Guidelines.

  4. Reporting: 

    The recipient must agree to provide annual progress reports and a final report. 

    The recipient must also agree to provide copies of any peer reviewed journal article(s) resulting from the project during the project period.  In addition, the recipient should notify the ORD Project Officer of any papers published after completion of the cooperative agreement that were based on activities supported by the cooperative agreement. 

  5. Quality Assurance:

    Trainees placed in EPA laboratories will be governed by the EPA quality system, as described in the approved quality management plan for the organization in which they are placed.  Approved quality management plans are in full compliance with the EPA’s quality system requirements as expressed in these two documents:

    • Policy and Program Requirements for the Mandatory Agency-wide Quality System, EPA CIO 2105.0, May 2000; and
    • EPA Quality Manual for Environmental Programs, EPA CIO 2105-P-01-0,   May 2000.

    Trainees who are engaged in scientific research, including laboratory work must:

    • Meet with the organization’s Quality Assurance Manager (QAM),
    • Complete QA training prior to the initiation of research activities,
    • Work under an approved quality assurance project plan (QAPP),
    • As appropriate, use standard operating procedures (SOPs),
    • As appropriate, follow the policies and procedures provided by the EPA National Geospatial Program, including the National Geospatial Data Policy (NGDP)

    The mentor is responsible for ensuring compliance with these requirements.  If the trainee will work under an existing, approved, QAPP, it will be provided to the trainee before work begins.  Alternatively, the mentor may ask the trainee to develop a QAPP and/or SOP related to their work.

  6. Acknowledgement of EPA Support: EPA’s full or partial support must be acknowledged in journal articles, oral or poster presentations, news releases, interviews with reporters and other communications.  Any documents developed under this agreement that are intended for distribution to the public or inclusion in a scientific, technical, or other journal shall include the following statement:

    This publication [article] was developed under Assistance Agreement No.________ awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to [name of recipient].  It has not been formally reviewed by EPA.  The views expressed in this document are solely those of [name of recipient or names of authors] and do not necessarily reflect those of the Agency.  EPA does not endorse any products or commercial services mentioned in this publication.

VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

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

Eligibility Contact: Ron Josephson (josephson.ron@epa.gov); phone: 703-308-0442
Electronic Submissions: Todd Peterson (peterson.todd@epa.gov); phone: 703-308-7224
Technical Contact: Vanessa O'Neal (oneal.vanessa@epa.gov); phone: 919-541-5680

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