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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

Research Program on Statistical Survey Design and Analysis for Aquatic Resources

Opening Date:  October 30, 2000
Closing Date:  March 1, 2001

Background
Focus Areas for Research
    Statistical Research Area 1: Design-based/Model-Assisted Survey Methodology
     Statistical Research Area 2:  Spatial and Temporal Modeling incorporating hierarchical survey design, data analysis, and modeling
Guidelines for Establishing Statistical Survey Design and Analysis Research
Funds Available
Eligibility
Instructions for Submitting the Application
    Sorting Code
     The Application
How to Apply
Application Review
Selection Criteria
Proprietary Information
Funding Mechanism
Contacts

Get forms and standard instructions
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting proposals to establish two National Research Programs on Statistical Survey Design and Analysis by means of four-year cooperative agreements.  EPA's purpose in establishing the Programs is to provide a national capability to identify and perform cutting-edge research in environmental statistics that will further the application of statistics to the environmental sciences and facilitate the professional development of future environmental statisticians.  Each Program is expected to interact actively with ORD research programs and scientists and to identify and explore other promising areas of research in collaboration with other partners.  Since EPA/ORD scientists are located at multiple sites nationally, this announcement envisions that each of the two Programs established will involve collaborative research activity at multiple, geographically diverse sites.

The EPA is responsible for providing scientifically defensible information on the status and trends of the aquatic resources of the United States.  EPA, working with the States and Tribes, collects this information through a variety of  monitoring programs.  Historically, these monitoring programs have relied on targeted site monitoring to meet programmatic requirements.  In recent years aquatic monitoring programs have begun to use probability-based survey designs to meet their information needs.

BACKGROUND

One of ORD’s flagship research programs is the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP).  EMAP’s goal is to build the scientific basis for, and support the development of, the infrastructure necessary to monitor the condition of the Nation’s aquatic ecosystems and to identify significant trends in these ecosystems for local, regional and national assessments.  EMAP’s success depends upon developing sound scientific solutions to key monitoring issues, demonstrating the efficacy of these new approaches, and supporting the building of state, tribal and local infrastructure necessary to implement these approaches.

EMAP’s approach to developing a scientifically defensible monitoring program employs three complementary strategies: (1) applying a rigorous probability sampling framework for site data collection and population estimation; (2) incorporating auxiliary information, such as that available from landscape ecology, to investigate the effects of spatial and temporal patterns on aquatic resources; and (3) conducting integrated regional assessments

First, the rigorous statistical or probability sampling, framework, and subsequent data analysis procedures provide the basis for estimating, with a known confidence level, the extent and condition of aquatic resources, and for characterizing trends in the condition of aquatic resources.  This framework is also used to develop site-level indicators of the condition of  aquatic resources and to establish reference conditions against which the condition of the aquatic resources is evaluated.

Second, the landscape ecology component of  EMAP investigates the influence of spatial and temporal patterns in land cover and biophysical settings on the quality and condition of aquatic resources.   Landscape pattern metrics derived from biophysical data and remotely sensed land cover information are tested as potential indicators of aquatic resource condition.  EMAP site data and other sources of site-level aquatic monitoring data are used as response variables to test the effectiveness of these landscape indicators.  Landscape analyses are an important component of regional EMAP studies, described below.   Such studies include the Mid-Atlantic Integrated Assessment and the western EMAP Pilot Project.

Third, EMAP conducts geographic surveys that consist of one or more major national or regional initiatives and ten smaller regional EMAP (R-EMAP) studies.  The major geographic initiatives are intended to describe status and trends in the condition of  aquatic individual resources within large geographic regions, such as the Mid-Atlantic area or the western EMAP Pilot Project, which has study areas in twelve western States.  For these large-scale studies, EMAP joins with regional, state, tribal and local agencies in partnerships to build regional assessments, using complementary bottom-up and top-down assessment approaches.   For the bottom-up approach, local, site-scale data acquired from EMAP’s probability sampling framework aggregates local data upward into broader regional assessments of condition and trends.  For the top-down approach, landscape pattern metrics and indicators are used to examine the effect of coarser-scale stressors on water resources.  The smaller R-EMAP studies are conducted using similar techniques over smaller geographic areas within each of the ten EPA Regions.  These R-EMAP studies allow EMAP to expand its geographic scope, engage the States, and transfer monitoring technologies, while helping to solve local problems.

Within this context, EMAP has conducted statistical research and development on monitoring program survey design and analysis.  The objective of the research has been to advance the scientific and operational basis for producing scientifically defensible state, regional, and national estimates on the current status, changes, and trends in aquatic resources.

 Statistical design and analysis techniques are central to environmental data collection programs for the following reasons:

(1) Statistical techniques often can identify and adjust for biases in data.  When sufficient data are not available from one source, data and other quantitative information from multiple, disparate sources could be combined statistically;

(2) Environmental data are inherently spatial and temporal, and the effects of spatial-temporal structure on the representativeness of environmental monitoring data is important to study design, modeling, and analysis;

(3) Computer simulation models of environmental and other phenomena and environmental monitoring networks, resultant data, or models using such data, should be evaluated to identify embedded biases, sensitivities, or limitations;

(4) Environmental risk estimates should  be based on and evaluated with respect to sound notions of the likelihood, duration, and intensity of exposure to deleterious substances or stressors, and on the relationship of exposure to potential effects;

(5) Environmental sampling methods for streams and rivers should be reliable and replicable to account for both false-positive and false-negative errors; and

(6) Environmental regulation and the establishment of improved criteria for risk assessment will benefit from further developments in statistical meta-analysis and data synthesis.

Several of these needs require entirely new statistical methods or approaches. These and additional operational experiences stimulate environmental statistical research and illustrate the need for a cutting edge, cohesive national research capability in environmental statistics.

FOCUS AREAS FOR RESEARCH

EPA seeks to expand EMAP’s statistical research and development work by engaging the larger statistical research community in refining survey techniques, other design techniques, and subsequent analytical procedures.  In particular, EPA, States, and other institutions need credible estimates of the current state of aquatic ecosystems (population estimates); how these conditions are changing (change detection); where the problems exist (prediction at specific locations or areas); and why the problems exist (identification of cause/effect).   To answer these questions, two general areas of statistical research will be funded:

Statistical Research Area 1: Design-based/Model-Assisted Survey Methodology

This focus area should include research related to:

1.  Small area estimation applied to surveys of lakes, streams, and estuaries.  EMAP and state monitoring programs are often asked to produce estimates for geographical areas that have insufficient data to produce pure design-based estimates.

2.  Estimation of annual condition using complex surveys over time.  Given the dual demand for current status estimates for a number of sub-populations and trends in status, many States and agencies are initiating more complex surveys over time, such as rotating panel designs.  Given auxiliary data, how can annual status estimates be improved?

3.  Development of new survey design methods to assess ecological condition that incorporate remote sensing and other sources of auxiliary information.  Increasingly, complete coverage information is available that may improve design-based estimates of status.  Using existing survey data, can alternative survey designs and analyses be implemented that would lead to better estimates?

4.  Development of procedures to account for missing data in probability surveys due to denial of access by landowners and physically inaccessible locations.  As with most surveys, ecological surveys are subject to missing data.  Using EMAP data, can imputation or other procedures be used to improve estimates?

Statistical Research Area 2:  Spatial and Temporal Modeling incorporating hierarchical survey design, data analysis, and modeling

Integrating statistical technology based on survey design and hierarchical modeling with techniques drawn from the field of landscape ecology will improve our understanding of spatial and temporal structures of aquatic systems, refine bottom-up and top-down analytical methods used for regional assessments, and provide more explicit spatial information.  In particular, we seek techniques that can be used to integrate data from EMAP’s probability based sampling design, intensive site studies, and remote sensing platforms.  The focus of this area should include research related to:

1.  Developing statistical methods to investigate site-level data, remotely sensed data, and model simulation data to determine the presence of spatial and temporal structures in key aspects of aquatic systems (e.g., stream flow, hydroperiod, temperature, or chemical gradients; distribution of aquatic biota; and natural and anthropogenic disturbance processes).   Such structure is sometimes referred to as scales or levels and it can suggest methods for data aggregation and extrapolation.

2.  Developing statistical methods for data aggregation that can reflect the presence of spatial and temporal data structures and that can relate the scale of data aggregation to specific processes known or hypothesized to affect aquatic ecosystems.

3.  Developing guidelines for designing multi-tiered monitoring studies with the goal of identifying key scales of inquiries for classes of aquatic ecosystems (e.g., rivers and streams, wetlands, lakes, coastal systems).

4.  Developing multi-level or hierarchical statistical models that can accommodate missing data, temporal and spatial dependencies, latent variables, multiple response variables, and non-linear functional forms.

5.  Developing statistical estimation procedures to produce estimates and associated uncertainty in the predictions using EMAP or state probability survey data.  Spatially-explicit prediction of ecological condition for lakes, streams, and estuaries.  Probability surveys conducted by EMAP and States produce design-based summary statistics on the status of the aquatic resource.  Although such summary statistics are extremely valuable, States would also like to be able to predict the ecological condition of aquatic resources at all locations, or, at a minimum, to estimate the probability of an ecological condition.

6.  Estimating probable causal sources of poor ecological condition for lakes, streams, and estuaries.  EMAP and State probability surveys measure both stressors and ecological condition of aquatic resources.  Indicators of ecological condition are determined at a point (with support area) as are some in-stream or near-stream stressors.  Other stressors are determined from watersheds defined as draining to above the sampling sites.  Although both watershed (landscape) and in-stream stressors may impact the ecological condition of water resources, independently or in concert, typically in-stream stressors or other indicators are more strongly associated with ecological condition.  How can causal modeling, such as structural equation models, path analysis, or Bayesian relief networks be used to improve understanding of causal paths?

7.  Developing procedures for combining probability survey data with non-probability survey data to estimate population characteristics.  Using example data sets, develop and demonstrate whether probability survey data and non-probability survey data can be effectively combined to improve estimates of the overall population status.

8.  Estimating total number of species within a region based on probability survey data.  Review and synthesize alternative statistical and ecological procedures for estimating total number of species within a geographic region where information available is from a probability survey.  Suggest alternatives or modifications to existing survey designs that would lead to improvements.

9.  Developing adjustments for measurement error on cumulative distribution function and other estimates for a target population.

Research in these two focus areas is expected to be conducted using existing data available from EMAP’s geographic initiatives, R-EMAP studies, or EMAP-designed state monitoring programs.  Information on EMAP studies can be found on http://www.epa.gov/emap/.  Although theoretical advances may be realized from the research conducted, demonstration of how current or new statistical approaches will perform in improving estimates and reports on the Nation’s aquatic resources is expected.

The National Research Programs on Statistical Survey Design and Analysis established by this RFA would have two primary objectives: (1) to support advances in the mathematical science of probability and hierarchical survey design and analysis and spatial and temporal modeling as described above, and (2) to develop and extend the expertise on design and analysis to States and Tribes.  Research proposals submitted must emphasize one of the two areas of interest, although a proposal may include some research from the other area.  We recognize that an overlap exists between the two areas.  In undertaking these issues, we would anticipate that the National Research Programs would support a number of pre- and post-graduate students in addition to senior scientists.  In this way, a cadre of graduates would be developed who would have the expertise and experience in survey design and analysis needed to fill a gap in the expertise required to successfully monitor the condition of the Nation’s aquatic resources.  The formation of consortia of organizations that can address the range of issues is encouraged.

GUIDELINES FOR CONDUCTING STATISTICAL SURVEY DESIGN AND ANALYSIS RESEARCH

1. In conducting their research, the individual project leaders within each Program must demonstrate a willingness to take advantage of existing or future EMAP monitoring data bases and programs, as they become available.  All applications should include a description of the EMAP and other data bases that will be analyzed.

2. Each Program must be led by an overall Director, who will provide oversight, coordination, and integration of the Program's activities.

3. Each Program will consist of a project supporting the direction and administration of the Program plus individual projects that are integrated into the overall goals of the Program (i.e., these cannot be independent, stand-alone projects, but must relate to each other substantively).

4.  Each program is encouraged to form an interdisciplinary team.  In addition to statistical expertise areas, expertise related to GIS, large databases, and subject matter areas related to aquatic ecosystems will be useful.

5.  Proposals may address one or both of the focus research areas and must specify up front which sections of the RFA it is focusing on.

6. Proposals should specifically address the extension of expertise on design and analysis to States and Tribes.  Such a component should consider the level of statistical training that may be extant in State and Tribal environmental management and resource agencies.  Research on and demonstration of distance learning concepts that allow individuals with basic statistics training to study and understand the concepts of design and analysis statistics are encouraged.  Training as used here does not include work leading to a baccalaureate or advanced degree, but might include seminars, workshops, demonstrations, handbooks, and the like.  This component must include an actual case study applying the distance learning concept and be readily transferable to others.

7. The application should contain specific plans for making data and research results available.   The Program must follow the data policy of EMAP (http://www.epa.gov/emap).  Research results must be published in the refereed literature.

8. Each Program will be responsible for organizing an annual joint workshop/review with the other Statistical Program and EPA scientists to highlight research and discuss research issues.  This responsibility will be rotated annually between the Programs.  Adequate travel funds should be budgeted for these reviews.  Each Program must also provide additional mechanisms for interaction and integration with the other Program.

Please note that a separate Request for Applications for the establishment of an “Environmental Statistics Center” has been announced.  Applications will not be accepted to both solicitations unless they are responsive to the language of each of the specific solicitations to which they are submitted.

FUNDS AVAILABLE

Support for these cooperative agreements is contingent upon the availability of FY 2001 funds for this purpose.  It is anticipated that a total of $1.5 million, including direct and indirect costs, will be available to fund two Programs during the first year. It is anticipated that each Program will be funded at up to $750K per year for a period of four years (total $3M per program).

ELIGIBILITY

Academic and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and state or local governments, are eligible under all existing authorizations.  Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive cooperative agreements from EPA under this program.  Federal agencies and national laboratories funded by federal agencies (Federally-funded Research and Development Centers, FFRDCs) may not apply.

Federal employees are not eligible to serve in a principal leadership role on a cooperative agreement.  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 principal investigator, but may not direct projects on behalf of the applicant organization or principal investigator.  The principal investigator's institution may provide funds through its agreement from EPA to a 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 employees may not receive salaries or in other ways augment their agency's appropriations through cooperative agreements made by this program.  The principal investigator’s institution may enter into an agreement with a federal agency to purchase or utilize unique supplies or services unavailable in the private sector.  Examples are purchase of satellite data, census data tapes, chemical reference standards, analyses, or use of instrumentation or other facilities not available elsewhere, etc.  A written description of the federal involvement must be included in the application, along with an assurance from the federal agency involved which commits it to supply the specified service.

Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact Dr. Robert E. Menzer in NCER, phone (202) 564-6849, EMail: menzer.robert@epa.gov.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR SUBMITTING THE APPLICATION

1. Sorting Code

The need for a sorting code to be used in the application and for mailing is described below.  The sorting code for applications submitted in response to this solicitation is 2001-STAR-D1.

The deadline for receipt of applications by NCER is no later than 4:00 p.m. ET, March 1, 2001.

2. The Application

The initial application is made through the submission of the materials described below.  It is essential that the application contain all the information requested and be submitted in the formats described.  If an application is considered for award, (i.e., after external peer review and internal review) additional forms and other information will be requested by the Project Officer.  The original signed copy of the application should not be bound or stapled in any way.  Other copies should be stapled or bound with clips.

The Application will include both the overall Program plan and descriptions of the individual research projects.  The overall application contains the following:

A. Standard Form 424: The applicant must complete Standard Form 424 (click here for required forms).  This form will act as a cover sheet for the application and must be its first page.  Instructions for completion of the SF424 are included with the form.  The form must contain the original signature of an authorized representative of the applying  institution.  Please note that both the Principal Investigator (Program Director) and an administrative contact are to be identified in Section 5 of the SF424.

B. Key Contacts:  The applicant must complete the Key Contacts Form (click here for required forms) as the second page of the submitted application.

C. Table of Contents:  Provide a list of the major subdivisions of the application which indicates the page number on which each sections begins.

D.  Abstract:  The abstract is a very important document.  It is critical that the abstract accurately describe the research being proposed and convey all the essential elements of the research.  The abstracts of funded applications will be posted on the NCER web site. The abstract, limited to two pages,  should include the following information, as indicated in the example format provided (click here for required forms).  Examples of abstracts for current grants may be found on the NCER web site (http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/research.search/rpt/abs/type/3).

1. Sorting Code: 2001-STAR-D1

2. Title: Use the exact title as it appears in the rest of the application.

3. Investigators: Start with the Principal Investigator (Program Director).  Also list the names and affiliations of each major co-investigator who will significantly contribute to the project.

4.  Institution: List the name and city/state of each participating university or other applicant institution, in the same order as the list of investigators.

5. Project Period: Provide the proposed project beginning and ending dates.

6. Project Cost: Provide the total request for federal funds for the entire project period.

7. Overall Summary: This should summarize: (a) the objectives of the Program (including all hypotheses that will be tested), (b) the experimental approach to be used (which should give an accurate description of the Program’s objectives as described in the proposal), and (c) the expected results of the research and how it addresses the needs identified in the solicitation, including the estimated improvement in risk assessment or risk management that will result from successful completion of the work proposed.

8. Supplemental Keywords: A list of suggested keywords is provided for your use.  Do not duplicate terms already used in the text of the abstract.  Providing a complete set of keywords is very important.

E.  Overall Description:  This description must not exceed fifteen (15) consecutively numbered (center bottom), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins, inclusive of figures and other visual materials, but exclusive of references.  The description must provide the following information:
1. Objectives:  List the overall objectives of the research that will be conducted by the members of the Program and briefly state why the intended research is important.  This section should also include any background or introductory information that would help explain the overall Program objectives (one to two pages recommended).

2. Approach: Summarize the overall methods, approaches, and techniques that you intend to employ in meeting the objectives stated above (two to five pages recommended).

3. Expected Results or Benefits: Describe the results you expect to achieve, the benefits of success as they relate to environmental statistics, and the potential recipients of these benefits.  This section should also discuss the utility of the research projects proposed for addressing the environmental problems described in the solicitation (one to two pages recommended).

4. Management Plan and Milestones: The administrative and management aspects of the Program should be described.  This plan should describe how priorities are set, how projects will be monitored and how progress will be measured.  The management plan should also state its data policy, present both the budget for administration of the overall Program and an overall summary budget, and contain a resume for the Director.  Project management should be clearly delineated, with the roles and responsibilities of each investigator described.  A year-by-year summary of proposed work must be included with intermediate outcomes and a time line of major tasks covering the duration of the proposed project (two to five pages recommended).

5. General Information: Discuss other information relevant to the potential success of the Program.  This should include facilities, interactions with other institutions, etc. (one to two pages recommended).

6. Important Attachments: Appendices and/or other information may be included but must remain within the 15-page limit.  References cited are in addition to the 15 pages. Each of the specific individual research projects is allocated an additional 15 pages.

In addition to the overall description of the Program, each individual research project must be described as follows:

F.  Individual Research Project Descriptions:  Each of the specific individual research projects should be completely described according to the instructions in NCER’s Standard Instructions for Submitting a STAR Application (click here for standard instructions).  An additional fifteen pages is permitted for each of the individual project descriptions.  Each should include its own abstract, project budget, and resumes of participating researchers, all of which are in addition to the allowed 15 pages.  The Director of the Program may participate as the Principal Investigator on one or more of the individual projects. All individual project proposals should be collected and submitted as part of an integrated Program proposal.  No proposal independent of the proposed overall Program plan will be considered.

The following sections are in addition to the 15-page Project Description for the overall Program plan and for each individual project.  These materials should be included for both the overall plan and the individual projects, as appropriate:

G. Resumes: The resumes of all principal investigators and important co-workers are to be presented.  Resumes must not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins for each individual.

H. Current and Pending Support: The applicant must identify any current and pending financial resources that are intended to support research related to that included in the proposal or which would consume the time of principal investigators.  This should be done by completing the appropriate form (click here for required forms) for each investigator and other senior personnel involved in the proposal.  Failure to provide this information may delay consideration of your proposal.

I. Budget:  The applicant must present a detailed, itemized budget for the entire Program.  This budget must be in the format provided in the example (click here for required forms) and not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages with 1-inch margins.  Please note that institutional cost-sharing is not required and, therefore, does not have to be included in the budget table.  However, if you intend to cost-share, a brief statement concerning cost sharing can be added to the budget justification, which should include the estimated dollar amounts associated with the appropriate categories in the budget table.  In addition, provide a separate budget for each individual research project in the same format.  Sum the costs in the master budget for all projects in the Program.

J.  Budget Justification: This section should describe the basis for calculating the personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, and other (including computer) costs identified in the itemized budget and explain the basis for their calculation (special attention should be given to explaining the travel, equipment, and other categories).  This should also include an explanation of how the indirect costs were calculated.  This justification should not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins.

K. Quality Assurance Statement:  For any project involving data collection or processing, conducting surveys, environmental measurements, and/or modeling, or the development of environmental technology (whether hardware-based or via new techniques) for pollution control and waste treatment, provide a statement on quality processes that will be used to assure that results of the research satisfy the intended project objectives.  The statement must describe a quality system that complies with the requirements of ANSI/ASQC E4, "Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology Programs," and must not exceed two pages.  This Statement should, for each item listed below, present the required information, reference the relevant portion of the project description containing the information, or provide a justification as to why the item does not apply to the proposed research.

1. Discuss the activities to be performed or hypothesis to be tested and  criteria for determining acceptable data quality.  (Note: Such criteria may be expressed in terms of precision, accuracy, representativeness, completeness, and comparability or in terms of data quality objectives or acceptance criteria.  Furthermore, these criteria must also be applied to determine the acceptability of existing or secondary data to be used in the project.  In this context secondary data may be defined as data previously collected for other purposes or from other sources, including the literature, compilations from computerized data bases, or results from models of environmental processes and conditions.)

2. Describe the study design, including sample type and location requirements, any statistical analyses that were or will be used to estimate the types and numbers of physical samples required, or equivalent  information for studies using survey and interview techniques.

3. Describe the procedures for the handling and custody of samples, including sample collection, identification, preservation, transportation, and storage.

4. Describe the procedures that will be used in the calibration and performance evaluation of the sampling and analytical methods and equipment to be used during the project.

5. Discuss the procedures for data reduction and reporting, including a description of all statistical methods, with reference to any statistical software to be used, to make inferences and conclusions; discuss any computer models to be designed or utilized with associated verification and validation techniques.

6. Describe the quantitative and/or qualitative procedures that will be used to evaluate the success of the project, including any plans for peer or other reviews of the study design or analytical methods prior to data collection.

After the award is made, a more detailed quality assurance statement will be required.

ANSI/ASQC E4, "Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology Programs," is available for purchase from the American Society for Quality, phone 1-800-248-1946, item T55.  Only in exceptional circumstances should it be necessary to consult this document. An EPA guidance document, Guidance on Satisfying EPA Quality System Requirements for STAR Grants (EPA  QA/G-1STAR) is available for potential applicants which addresses in detail how to comply with ANSI/ASQC E4 for STAR grants.  This may be found on the Internet at http://www.epa.gov/ncerqa.

L. Postcard: The Applicant must include with the application a self-addressed, stamped 3x5-inch post card.  This will be used to acknowledge receipt of the application and to transmit other important information to the applicant.  If the applicant does not receive an acknowledgment within 60 days of the submission deadline, contact the person listed under “Contacts.”

HOW TO APPLY

The original and ten (10) copies of the fully developed application (11 in all) and one (1) additional copy of the abstract (12 in all), must be received by NCER no later than 4:00 P.M. EST on the closing date March 1, 2001.

The application and abstract must be prepared in accordance with these instructions.  Informal, incomplete, or unsigned proposals will not be considered.  The original, signature copy of the application should not be bound or stapled in any way.  The required number of copies of the application should be secured with paper or binder clips.

Completed applications should be sent via regular mail to:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8703R)
Sorting Code: 2001-STAR-D1
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington DC  20460

For express mail-delivered applications, the following address must be used:

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8703R)
Sorting Code: 2001-STAR-D1
Room B-10105
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004

Phone: (202) 564-6939 (for express mail applications)

Courier- or personally-delivered applications must be brought to the Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20004.  The courier must come to the EPA Visitors Lobby (see map), tell the security guard that he/she has a delivery for the EPA mail room.  The courier will be required to sign a visitor’s log, and will be directed to the EPA mail room.  The mail room is open 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. weekdays, exclusive of Federal holidays.  If the applicant requires a receipt for the delivery, you will need to provide a form which the mail room personnel will sign.

APPLICATION REVIEW

All applications will be reviewed by an appropriate technical peer review group.  This review is designed to evaluate each proposal according to its technical merit.  In general, the review group is composed of  statisticians and scientists, engineers, social scientists, and/or economists who are experts in their respective disciplines and are proficient in their technical areas.

The application will be evaluated in the following areas: (1) the individual research projects and (2) the overall Program plan, including its administrative structure, the management plan, and the overall research integration plan.

The reviewers use the following criteria to help them in their reviews of the individual projects:

1. The originality and creativity of the proposed research, the appropriateness and adequacy of the methods proposed, and the appropriateness and adequacy of the Quality Assurance Narrative Statement.  Is the research approach practical and technically defensible, and can the project be performed within the proposed time period?  Will the proposed research contribute to the objectives of the Program?  Is the application well-prepared with supportive information that is self-explanatory and understandable?

2. The qualifications of the principal investigator(s) and other key personnel, including research training, demonstrated knowledge of pertinent literature, experience, and publication records.  Will all key personnel contribute a significant time commitment to the project?

3. The availability and/or adequacy of the facilities and equipment proposed for the project.  Are there any deficiencies that may interfere with the successful completion of the research?

4. The responsiveness of the application to the research needs identified. Is the proposed effort integrated with current activities at the site?

5. Although budget information is not used by the reviewers as the basis for their evaluation of 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 work.  Input on requested equipment is of particular interest.

Applying the above listed criteria, the peer review panel will also evaluate the overall Program application on the basis of the plan for integration of the research program, its scope, degree of integration of the several research projects, and the capacity of the Program to achieve its overall objectives.

SELECTION CRITERIA

Applications that receive scores of excellent or very good from the peer reviewers are subjected to a programmatic review within EPA.  Upon conclusion of all reviews, the most meritorious applications will be recommended for funding.  Subsequent grant administration procedures will be in accordance with EPA policies.  A summary statement of the scientific review by the peer panel will be provided to each applicant.

The applications selected for funding will require additional certifications, possibly a revised budget, and responses to any comments or suggestions offered by the peer reviewers.  The project officer will contact principal investigators to obtain these materials.

PROPRIETARY INFORMATION

By submitting an application in response to this solicitation, the applicant grants EPA permission to share the application with technical reviewers both within and outside the Agency.  Applications containing proprietary or other types of confidential information will be returned to the applicant without review.

FUNDING  MECHANISM

The funding mechanism will be a cooperative agreement from EPA and depends on the availability of funds.  In accordance with Public Law 95-224, the primary purpose of a cooperative agreement is to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by Federal statute rather than acquisition for the direct benefit of the government.

CONTACTS

Additional general information on the grants program, forms used for applications, etc., may be obtained by exploring our Web page at <http://www.epa.gov/ncerqa>.  EPA does not intend to make mass-mailings of this announcement.  Information not available on the Internet may be obtained by contacting:

 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
 National Center for Environmental Research (8703R)
 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
 Washington, DC 20460

Phone: 1-800-490-9194

In addition, the contact person listed below can respond to any technical questions related to your application.

Barbara Levinson
202-564-6911
levinson.barbara@epa.gov

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