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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Research

CLOSED - FOR REFERENCES PURPOSES ONLY

Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms

  • National Center for Environmental Research, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Coastal Ocean Program (COP) and Office of Protected Resources, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce
  • Division of Ocean Sciences, Directorate for Geosciences, National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Office of Naval Research (ONR), Department of Defense
  • Office of Earth Science, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Opening Date:  October 30, 2000
Closing Date:  January 31, 2001

Background
Agency Interests
Program Goals and Topic
Funds Available
Eligibility
Instructions for Submitting an Application
How to Apply
Guideline, Limitations, and Additional Requirements
Review and Selection Critieria
Proprietary Information
Funding Mechanism
Expectations and Responsibility of the Recipient
Contacts

Get Required Forms and Instructions

See current ECOHAB research abstracts

SUMMARY:  The purpose of this notice is to advise the public that the participating agencies are soliciting research proposals of up to 3 years duration, and depending on appropriations, up to 5 years for multidisciplinary regional studies, for the Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB) program.  This program provides support for research on algal species whose populations may cause or result in deleterious effects on ecosystems and human health.  Studies of the causes of such blooms, their detection, effects, mitigation, and control in U.S. coastal waters, are solicited.  This document details the requirements for applications for research support that will be considered by the Federal research partnership.

BACKGROUND

Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) include toxic and noxious phytoplankton, some protists, and benthic algae.  Evidence suggests that over the last few decades the frequency and duration of HABs have been increasing nationally and worldwide.  Formerly, only a few regions of the U.S. were affected by HABs, but now virtually every coastal state has reported major blooms.  In many cases, blooms extend over large geographic areas and are composed of more than one harmful or toxic species.  Furthermore, HABs are not unique to the United States and have attracted interest from many countries that have commercial and recreational activities in the coastal ocean with the impacts from these blooms resulting in international support for a global research effort on these organisms.  The new international program, GEOHAB (Global Ecology and Oceanography of HABs), is sponsored by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research.

In spite of a growing list of affected resources, our understanding of the biological, physical, and chemical processes that regulate HABs remains limited.  Toxic blooms can impact virtually all compartments of the marine foodweb due to adverse effects on metabolism, viability, growth, fecundity, and recruitment of marine organisms.  HAB-produced toxins can have immediate acute impacts on marine populations, including marine mammals, birds, and several protected species, with little known about the effects of chronic low level exposure.  Dramatic shifts in structure of an ecosystem can accompany plankton blooms and macroalgal overgrowth in benthic systems.  In this context, our present knowledge is inadequate to define the scale and complexity of many HAB phenomena.

HAB impacts on public health and local/regional economies are also dramatic and increasing.  Economic losses in the U.S. from HABs are likely to exceed one billion dollars over several decades, with costs attributable to maintenance of toxin monitoring programs, closures of shellfish beds, marine mammal stranding networks, collapse of some fisheries, mortality of fish,  shellfish, turtles, birds, and mammals, disruptions in tourism, threats to public and coastal resource health, publication of watershed, health, and seafood advisories, and medical treatments.  Human illness and even fatalities are also increasing, with some toxins devastating large segments of entire populations (over 50% of the population of several Pacific Islands suffers from ciguatera poisoning).  Other toxins may cause only a few documented illnesses but result in serious public reaction and temporary aversion to local seafood products and activities (e.g., $43 million in lost revenue from the 1997 Maryland fish health/Pfiesteria events).

These large impacts have increased public awareness and demand for intervention in  HABs to reduce or eliminate bloom impacts on coastal resources, local economies, and threats to public health. As a result, there needs to be increased focus on early detection of bloom species, environmental conditions supporting blooms, and toxins associated with some of the toxin-producing species.  Further, there is increasing emphasis on manipulating coastal waters to prevent or control the blooms, common in management practices of other nations but practically non-existent in U.S. coastal waters.  And finally, there needs to be increased emphasis on ensuring that coastal managers and the public are provided the most current information available in a manner that will maximize its usefulness in mitigating HAB impacts.

The national urgency for developing a nation-wide approach to the increasing impacts of HABs in U.S. coastal waters was assessed in a report that is now the basis of the U.S. national HAB program.  The 1993 report, “Marine Biotoxins and Harmful Algae: A National Plan” (Anderson, D.M., S.B. Galloway, and J.D. Joseph. 1993. WHOI Technical Report 93-02, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 44 pp.), outlines the nation’s comprehensive Federal approach to the U.S. problem and can be examined at http://www.redtide.whoi.edu/hab/nationplan/s-kplan/s-kcontents.html.  The Plan serves as the foundation for the continuing and expanding HAB research, monitoring, and event response programs in the U.S.  This in turn was followed by publication of a report outlining the general approach to understanding and addressing the interactions of HAB species with their environment, leading to the formation of the interagency ECOHAB research program.  The report,“ ECOHAB, the Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms” (Anderson, D.M. 1995. WHOI, Woods Hole, MA, 66 pp.; http://habserv1.whoi.edu/hab/nationplan/ECOHAB/PDF/ECOHABPDF.html), expands on the National Plan by addressing the need for long-term, large-scale, multidisciplinary research on the relationships between HAB taxa and the surrounding environment.  The prevention, control, and mitigation of HABs is also addressed in “Harmful Algal Blooms in Coastal Waters: Options for Prevention, Control, and Mitigation” (Boesch, D.F. et al 1997. NOAA COP Decision Analysis Series No.10, NOAA Coastal Ocean Office, Silver Spring, MD 46 pp.).

ECOHAB is now sponsoring over 30 projects ranging from molecular aspects of HAB detection to large scale, multidisciplinary regional studies of bloom formation, maintenance, and dissipation; projects cover a wide spatial spectrum from large open gulf studies in the northeast and southern coastal waters to coastal waters of California, Alaska, Long Island, and Guam.  Other research projects include detection, prevention, control, and mitigation of HABs and their impacts as well as economic assessments of these recurring national events.  Several agencies carry out or sponsor outreach activities with an emphasis on Pfiesteria.

AGENCY INTERESTS

To address the increased need for research on HABs, NOAA, NSF, EPA, ONR, and NASA combine each agency’s unique interests and missions into this coordinated research program.  The interests and objectives of each agency are defined in the following paragraphs:

 NOAA -- HABs and related biotoxin risk must be managed if we are to ensure the public health, build viable and valuable sustainable fisheries, protect living marine resources, including threatened and endangered species, and effectively manage coastal activities and resources.  NOAA’s interest is in developing effective techniques for prevention, control, and mitigation to assist in reducing the impacts of HABs on coastal ecosystems (living marine resources and coastal habitats) and public health.  Impacts of acute and chronic toxin exposure on marine mammals, birds, and turtles must be assessed with rigorous, focused efforts.  Multidisciplinary investigations of regional factors responsible for development of recurrent blooms along the U.S. coast continue to be a major interest.

 EPA -- To protect the integrity of ecosystems that are affected by HABs, EPA seeks to support the development of detection, control, and mitigation technologies.  Also of interest are studies of factors that initiate the production of toxins by HAB species and the ecological fate and transport of toxins produced during HABs.  A third area of emphasis is the role of environmental factors (e.g., nutrients from agricultural activities and other non-point sources of pollutants) on the persistence and proliferation of HABs.

 NSF -- Many aspects of species-specific dynamics of plankton, macroalgal populations, and species succession that contribute to bloom formation are poorly understood.  NSF’s interest is in increasing our understanding of the direct and indirect causes of HABs in our coastal regions and their ecological consequences through research on the physiological and ecological basis for bloom formation, the physical and chemical attributes of coastal oceans that facilitate them, the population attributes of bloom species, and the long-term consequences of ecosystem changes.
 ONR -- Plankton blooms resulting from complex coupled physical/biological processes strongly affect the physical, optical, and acoustical properties of the coastal ocean.  ONR’s interest is in characterizing and forecasting these properties of blooms to improve the capability of the fleet to operate effectively within coastal environments worldwide.

 NASA -- Algal pigments affect optical properties of the water in well-characterized ways.  In the open ocean, it is possible to quantify pigment concentration using remote sensing techniques because phytoplankton are mostly responsible for variation in water color.  In nearshore, estuarine, and inland waters, suspended sediments and dissolved organic compounds make the optical properties much more complex.  The goal of detecting algal blooms in the presence of other colored materials is the subject of ongoing research.  NASA is interested in developing remote sensing techniques that could be applied to the detection or tracking of harmful algal blooms in nearshore coastal environments.

PROGRAM GOALS AND TOPIC AREAS

This announcement provides an opportunity for investigators to propose activities to address three primary areas in the national problem of HABs.  For the first area, proposals are sought for individual studies or small interdisciplinary efforts that address gaps in general knowledge related to the nature of HAB phenomena.  These studies should address fundamental ecological and oceanographic questions related to HABs.  The second area of interest is the prevention, control, and mitigation of HABs and their impacts.  The purpose of this area is to encourage research into key questions on the underlying mechanisms involved with HABs, and their control and accompanying ecosystem impact, without necessarily being limited to particular study regions.  The third research area is to characterize the impact of acute and chronic exposure to HAB species or toxins on marine mammals, birds, and other protected species.

The specific topics solicited for the three areas of emphasis include:

(1)  Characterization and detection of HAB cells, life stages, and toxins;

(2)  The influence of human and natural factors on the mechanisms of initiation, distribution, and accumulation of individual bloom-forming species, including detection and tracking of conditions suspected of being conducive to bloom formation;

(3) The sources, fates, and consequences of HABs in foodwebs and fisheries;

(4)  Physiological and biochemical bases of the ecological role of toxins in bloom-forming species, including the physical and biological processes that influence the transport, fate, and effects of marine biotoxins;

(5) Determination of acute- and chronic toxin exposure in marine mammals, birds, turtles, and other protected species;

(6) The prevention, mitigation, and control of HABs;

(7) Enhancing predictive and early warning capability for the occurrence and impact of HABs, including development of models of the physical, biogeochemical, and ecological processes that can ultimately lead to HAB prediction; and

(8)  Longer term consequences of ecosystem changes brought about by the increasing frequency and persistence of planktonic blooms and community alterations that can accompany macroalgal overgrowth in benthic systems.

A significant challenge to the implementation of this program is that HAB phenomena are diverse with respect to the causative organisms involved, the hydrographic or environmental regimes in which they occur, the factors regulating bloom dynamics, and the nature and extent of their impacts.  Whereas laboratory research helps define factors that could be significant in causing blooms and is essential for developing new technologies for detecting species and toxins, field research is essential to identifying actual environmental conditions under which blooms form as well as the limitations of laboratory analyses as ‘routine’ monitoring tools.  Comprehensive multidisciplinary studies are needed to fully understand the complex mechanisms underlying the growth and accumulation of harmful species, the formation, transfer, and fate of toxins, the impacts of HABs and toxins on ecosystems, and the influence of human activities on these processes.

ECOHAB will support projects ranging from laboratory studies by individual investigators or small teams through coordinated, well-integrated, multidisciplinary field programs; however, the size and duration of the latter studies are dependent on appropriations, and potential applicants are encouraged to speak with the ECOHAB Coordinator (see “Contacts” in this announcement) prior to preparation of these types of proposals.  Studies should address gaps in knowledge related to mechanisms that regulate harmful algal species, and, should funding permit, the development of predictive models would be considered.  Prevention, control, and mitigation projects should detail direct impacts on the HAB and toxins as well as potential deleterious impacts on other parts of the ecosystem.  Projects dealing with HAB impacts on larger living resources of U.S. coastal areas, i.e., mammals, birds, turtles, and other protected resources, should provide quantitative estimates of impacts, animal responses, and management applications.

FUNDS AVAILABLE

It is anticipated that up to approximately $ 2.7 million will be awarded in this program during the first year, depending on the programmatic relevance of recommended projects to the participating agencies and the availability of funds.  Awards are typically on the order of $150,000 per year, total costs, for up to three years.  Multi-investigator and multi-institutional applications may include correspondingly higher budgets.

ELIGIBILITY

Academic and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and state or local governments, are eligible under all existing authorizations.  Some participating agencies are authorized to make awards to profit-making firms and international institutions.  NOAA and other permitted Federal partnering agencies may fund investigators from Federal laboratories that successfully compete through the ECOHAB Program announcement, but salaries of full time federal employees will  be in accord with individual agency policies.  Federal investigators will be required to submit certifications or documentation which clearly show that they have specific legal authority to receive funds from another Federal agency in excess of their appropriations.  Applications from non-Federal and Federal applicants will be competed against each other.  Proposals selected for funding from non-Federal applicants will be funded through a project grant or cooperative agreement under the terms of this announcement.  Proposals from Federal researchers deemed acceptable and selected for funding will be funded through a medium other than a grant or cooperative agreement, such as inter- or intra-agency transfers, where legal authority exists for such funding.

Applications are welcome from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Native American Tribal Colleges.  Women and members of minority groups are particularly encouraged to participate in applications.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION

Applications will be submitted through the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program. Proposals meeting the stated eligibility criteria will be evaluated by a peer review panel.  Final selection of awardees by the participating agencies will be determined on the basis of the review panel’s recommendations, applicability of the proposed effort to the interests and objectives of an agency, and the availability of funds.  It is anticipated that each award will be granted through and be administered by a single agency; however several agencies may participate in making grants to individual components of multi-institutional projects.  Applicants recommended for funding may be requested to resubmit their proposals and modify their budgets and/or work plans to comply with special requirements of the particular agency supporting their awards.  Awards will be subject to the terms and conditions of the sponsoring agency.

Note that all forms and formats necessary for completing an application are available at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/

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 may be requested by the Agency making the grant.

The original, signature copy of the application should not be stapled or bound in any way.  Other copies should be stapled or bound with clips.

The Application contains the following:

A.  Standard Form 424: The applicant must complete Standard Form 424.  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 and an administrative contact should be identified in Section 5 of the SF424.

B.  Key Contacts: The applicant must complete the Key Contacts Form as the second page of the submitted application.

C.  Abstract: The abstract is a very important document.  Prior to attending the peer review panel meetings, some of the panelists may read only the abstract.  Therefore, it is critical that the abstract accurately describe the research being proposed and convey all the essential elements of the research.  The abstract, limited to one page, should include the following information, as indicated in the example format provided.

1.  Research Category:  Enter “ECOHAB”

2.  Title:  Use the exact title as it appears in the rest of the application. The title of the application must be brief, yet represent the major thrust of the project.  Because the title will be used by those not familiar with the project, avoid highly technical words or phraseology. Do not use phrases such as "research on."

3.  Investigators:  Start with the Principal Investigator.  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 to the Federal Government for the entire project period.

7.  Project Summary:  This should summarize (a) the objectives of the study (including any hypotheses that will be tested), (b) the experimental approach to be used (which should give an accurate description of the project as described in the proposal), and (c) the expected results of the project and how it addresses the research needs identified in the solicitation.

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.

D.  Research Plan: 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.  The description must provide the following information:
1.  Objectives:  List the objectives of the proposed research and the hypotheses being tested during the project, and briefly state why the intended research is important. This section should also include any background or introductory information that would help explain the objectives of the study.

2.  Approach:  Outline the methods, approaches, and techniques that you intend to employ in meeting the objective stated above (five to 10 pages recommended).

3.  Expected Results or Benefits:  Describe the results you expect to achieve during the project, the benefits of success as they relate to the topic under which the proposal was submitted, and the potential recipients of these benefits.  This section should also discuss the utility of the research proposed for addressing the objectives described in the solicitation (one to two pages recommended).

4.  General Project Information:  Discuss other information relevant to the potential success of the project.  This should include facilities, personnel, project schedules, proposed management, interactions with other institutions, etc. (one to two pages recommended).

5.  Important Attachments:  Appendices, letters of collaboration or support, and/or other information may be included but must remain within the 15-page limit. References cited are in addition to the 15 pages.

The following sections are in addition to the 15-page Project Description.

E.  Resumes:  The resumes of all principal investigators and important co-workers are to be provided.  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.  Each resume should include the following information:

1.  A listing of professional and academic essentials and mailing address;

2.  A list of up to five publications most closely related to the proposed project and five other significant publications, within the last five years.  Additional lists of publications, lectures, etc., should not be included;

3.  A list of all persons (including their organizational affiliations) in alphabetical order who have collaborated on a project or publication within the last 48 months, including collaborators on the proposal and persons listed in the publications.  If there have been no collaborators, this should be indicated;

4.  A list of persons (including their organizational affiliations) with whom the individual has had an association as thesis advisor or postdoctoral sponsor; and

5.  A list of the names and institutions of the individual’s own graduate and postgraduate advisors.
 The material presented in (3),(4), and (5) is used to assist in identifying potential conflicts or bias in the selection of reviewers.

F.  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 (NCER FORM 5) for each investigator and other senior personnel involved in the proposal.

G.  Budget:  The applicant must present a detailed, itemized budget for the entire project.  This budget must be in the format provided in the example and not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages with 1-inch margins.  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 in the appropriate categories in the budget table.  If a sub-contract is included in the application, provide a separate budget for the sub-contract in the same format.  Include the total amount for the sub-contract under "Contracts" in the master budget.

Support of ships required for field studies are a significant cost that will be evaluated in any proposals for funding, so the need should be adequately justified within the project description.  NSF requests information on ship requirements in order to schedule time on University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) vessels as NSF might fund any of the proposals submitted.  As the funding mechanism for ship time is agency specific, ship costs should be included on the budget form as well as separately identified by submitting a NSF-UNOLS Ship Time Request Form.  The investigator is responsible for sending copies to the UNOLS office and ship operators.  If no ship time is required, submit the UNOLS form and indicate that no ship time is required.  A UNOLS Ship Time Request Form is available in electronic format at : http://www.gso.uri.edu/unols/ship/shiptime.html.  Paper copies may also be requested from UNOLS, but the electronic version is strongly preferred for ease of information exchange and processing.

Instructions for requesting ship support can be found in NSF 00-39; Proposal Submission Guidelines for Research Ship Operations, Instrumentation and Equipment, and Technical Services Support (http://www.nsf.gov/search97cgi/vtopic) (NSF 00-39 replaces NSF 94-124; OMB #3145-0058; expiration date August 2000).

H.  Budget Justification:  This section should describe the basis for calculating the personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, and other 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.

I.  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.  For awards that involve environmentally related measurements or data generation, 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," must be in place. The Quality Assurance Statement should not exceed two consecutively numbered, 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins. This is in addition to the 15 pages permitted for the Project Description. 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. These criteria must also be applied to determine the acceptability of existing or secondary data to be used in the project.)

2.  Describe the study design, including sample type and location requirements, any statistical analyses that were used to estimate the types and numbers of samples required for physical samples, 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 statistical analyses to be used and of 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.

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.

J.  Postcard:  The Applicant must include with the application a self-addressed, stamped 3x5-inch post card which 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 30 days of the submission deadline, contact the project official listed under "Contacts" in this solicitation.

How to Apply

The original and twenty (20) copies of the fully developed application (21 in all) and one (1) additional copy of the abstract, must be received by NOAA no later than 3:00 P.M. Eastern Time on the closing date, January 31, 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 stapled or bound in any way.  The required number of copies of the application should be secured with paper or binder clips.

Completed applications should be sent to:

Dr. Kevin Sellner, ECOHAB Coordinator
 N/SCI2, NOAA/NOS
 Room 9700
 1315 East-West Highway
 Silver Spring, MD 20910

For express mail-delivered applications, the following phone number must be used:
(301) 713-3338, extension 127.

Guidelines, Limitations, and Additional Requirements

Projects which contain sub-contracts constituting more than 40% of the total direct cost of the assistance agreement for each year in which the subcontract is awarded will be subject to special review.  Additional justification for extensive use of such sub-contracts must be provided in which the need is discussed in relation to the accomplishment of the specific objectives of the research project.

Review and Selection Criteria

All applications are reviewed by an appropriate technical peer review panel and ad hoc reviewers by mail.  This review is designed to evaluate each proposal according to its technical merit.  In general, each review group is composed of scientists, engineers, social scientists, and economists, and outreach specialists who are experts in their respective disciplines and are proficient in the technical subjects they are reviewing.  Reviewers use the following criteria of approximately equal weight to help them in their evaluations:

The originality and creativity of the proposed research or outreach project, the appropriateness and adequacy of the methods proposed, and the appropriateness and adequacy of the Quality Assurance Statement.  Is the approach practical and technically defensible, and can the project be performed within the proposed time period?  Will the project contribute to the generation and dissemination of scientific knowledge in the topic area of the solicitation?  Is the proposal well-prepared with supportive information that is self-explanatory and understandable?

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

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?

The responsiveness of the proposal to the needs identified in the announcement.  Does the proposal adequately address the objectives specified?

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 research.  Input on requested equipment is of particular interest.

Reviewers will also be asked to comment on other issues with equal weighting, including:  how well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning?  How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of under-represented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)?  To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships?  Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding?  What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?

Applications that receive scores of excellent and very good from the peer reviewers are subjected to a programmatic review by the sponsoring agencies in relation to program priorities. Recommendations are then made to one of the sponsoring agencies which will make the funding decision.  Grants will be selected on the basis of technical merit, relevancy to the research priorities outlined, and budget.

Customarily, applicants are notified about award decisions within 6 months of the application deadline.  A summary statement of the scientific review by the peer panel will be provided to each applicant with the award or declination letter.

Applications selected for funding will require additional certifications, possibly a revised budget, responses to any comments or suggestions offered by the peer reviewers, and an electronic version of the revised project abstract.  The sponsoring agency will contact the Principal Investigator to obtain required materials. Grant administration procedures will be in accordance with the policies of the awarding agency.

Proprietary Information

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

Funding Mechanism

The funding mechanism for the award issued under this solicitation to a non-Federal applicant will consist of a grant or cooperative agreement from the funding agency.  All award decisions are subject to the availability of funds.  In accordance with Public Law 95-224, 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 of the Agency.  In issuing a grant agreement, the funding agency anticipates that there will not be substantial agency involvement in the design, implementation, or conduct of the research.  However, the funding agency will monitor research progress through annual reports provided by the grantee and contacts with the Principal Investigator.

Expectations and Responsibilities of the Assistance Recipient

Meetings. Each applicant should include in the budget funds for a meeting each year with sponsoring agency personnel and other grantees to discuss research progress.  For planning purposes, assume that each meeting will be held in Washington, DC, will require the attendance of principal investigator(s) and co-principal investigator(s).  Each meeting will be up to three days in length, exclusive of travel time.

Reports.  As a result of the grant, the recipient will agree to provide to the Project Officer agency-specific annual progress reports with associated summaries and a final report with an executive summary.  The recipient will be required to provide copies of any peer reviewed journal article(s) resulting from the research during the project period and should continue to notify the Project Officer of any papers that are published after termination of the assistance agreement which were based on research supported thereby.

Contacts

Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the Agency officials indicated below. E-mail inquiries are preferred.

Technical Information:
Dr. Kevin Sellner,
ECOHAB Coordinator,
COP Office,
301-713-3338/ext 127,
email: ksellner@cop.noaa.gov.

Administrative Information:
Dr. Robert E. Menzer,
EPA/NCER,
(202) 564-6849,
email: menzer.robert@epa.gov.

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