[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 158 (Wednesday, August 17, 2005)]
[Notices]
[Pages 48468-48471]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-16246]



[[Page 48467]]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Part II





Department of Commerce





-----------------------------------------------------------------------



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration



-----------------------------------------------------------------------



Financial Assistance To Establish a New Cooperative Science Center 
Under NOAA's Educational Partnership Program (EPP) With Minority 
Serving Institutions for Scientific Environmental Technology; Notice

Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 158 / Wednesday, August 17, 2005 / 
Notices

[[Page 48468]]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[Docket No. 030602141-5196-21]


Financial Assistance To Establish a New Cooperative Science 
Center Under NOAA's Educational Partnership Program (EPP) With Minority 
Serving Institutions for Scientific Environmental Technology

AGENCY: Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), National 
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of criteria for establishing a new Cooperative Science 
Center in Scientific Environmental Technology at a Minority Serving 
Institution; and, notice of availability of funds and solicitation for 
proposals for these funds.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The purpose of this document is to advise the public that 
NOAA's Educational Partnership Program is soliciting proposals to 
establish a new Cooperative Science Center at an accredited 
postsecondary minority serving institution (MSI). This Center will be 
established as a partnership between the institution and NOAA, with the 
goal of expanding the institution's training and research capabilities 
and supporting the development of programs compatible with NOAA's 
mission. The Cooperative Science Center will be established in support 
of NOAA core science areas and will enhance NOAA's ability to conduct 
its mission with enhanced scientific environmental technologies. The 
Center will support activities that strengthen the research 
capabilities at the selected MSI with accredited programs and graduate 
degrees in physical sciences, including applied physics, applied 
mathematics, computer science applications, and atmospheric, oceanic 
and environmental related sciences. The Center's principal academic 
institution must be an accredited MSI with a Ph.D. program in one of 
the key sciences identified in this announcement. Proposals will not be 
accepted from non-profit organizations, foundations, auxiliary services 
or any other entity submitted on behalf of MSIs.

DATES: Applications must be received by NOAA Educational Partnership 
Program (EPP) no later than 2 p.m., local time 60 days after the 
publication of this notice.

ADDRESSES: Applications submitted in response to this announcement are 
strongly encouraged to be submitted through the Grants.gov Web site. 
Electronic access to the full funding announcement for this program is 
available via the Grants.gov Web site: http://www.grants.gov. The 
announcement will also be available at the NOAA Web site http://
www.ofa.noaa.gov/%7Eamd/SOLINDEX.HTML or by contacting the program 
official identified below. Paper applications (a signed original and 
two copies) should be submitted to the Educational Partnership Program 
at the following address: NOAA/OAR/EPP, 1315 East West Highway, Room 
10600, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910. No facsimile applications will be 
accepted. Institutions are encouraged to submit Letters of Intent to 
NOAA/EPP within 30 days of this announcement to aid in planning the 
review processes. Letters of Intent may be submitted via e-mail to 
Jacqueline.J.Rousseau@noaa.gov. Information should include a general 
description of the Center proposal and participating institutions.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jacqueline Rousseau, Program Director 
at (301) 713-9437 ext. 124 or Jacqueline.J.Rousseau@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    Summary Description: NOAA is commitment to the recruitment and 
retention of employees from underrepresented communities, trained in 
NOAA-related sciences, to conduct the ongoing mission of the agency. 
Toward that end, the agency established a program aimed at partnering 
with Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) that train and graduate 
students in the physical sciences and in particular in the areas of 
atmospheric, oceanic and environmental sciences, and remote sensing. 
Since approximately 40% of minority students receive their 
undergraduate degrees at MSIs, direct collaboration with MSIs is, 
therefore, an effective way to increase the number of minority students 
trained and graduating with degrees in NOAA-related fields who may 
become engaged in research and pursue careers compatible with the 
agency's mission. Statistics from the National Science Foundation (NSF) 
Science and Engineering Indicators 2004 Report illustrate that the 
number of minority students receiving doctoral and master's degrees in 
science and engineering for selected years from 1994-2003, continues to 
be lower than the national average. The NSF report states, for example, 
that in 2004 (the most recent data available) 26,413 doctoral degrees 
were granted in science and engineering (which includes earth, 
atmospheric, and ocean sciences) to U.S. citizens. Of these graduates, 
1708 were African American, 1270 were Hispanic, 133 were American 
Indian/Alaska Native and 1417 were Asian/Pacific Islander. The 2004 NSF 
report states that a total of 474 Ph.D. degrees were granted in earth, 
atmospheric, and ocean sciences. Of those earth, atmospheric, and ocean 
sciences graduates, 15 were granted to African Americans, 13 to 
Hispanics, 2 to American Indians and Alaskan Natives, and 10 to Asian/
Pacific Islanders. Statistics for master's degrees granted to these 
four groups are also disproportionately low. With such a limited pool 
of potential minority employees trained in NOAA-related sciences, it is 
important that NOAA seek new ways to make students aware of the mission 
of the agency and to support activities that increase opportunities for 
students trained in NOAA-related sciences.
    The Center will support activities that strengthen the research 
capability at the selected MSI with accredited programs and degrees in 
physical sciences, including applied physics, applied mathematics, 
computer science applications, engineering atmospheric, oceanic, and 
environmental and related sciences. An essential goal of this program 
is to seek ways to improve opportunities for, and retention of, 
students and faculty from underrepresented groups in NOAA-related 
sciences, at MSIs, with the eventual goal of increasing the number of 
students graduating with degrees that will enhance the technologies 
supportive of, and compatible with, atmospheric, oceanic, and 
environmental sciences, remote sensing and related technologies. The 
overall Educational Partnership Program (EPP) program strategies 
include: enhanced collaborative research, hands-on opportunities and 
research experiences for students and faculty with NOAA research 
facilities; strengthening the infrastructure at minority serving 
institutions that serve underrepresented groups; and, supporting staff 
exchanges between NOAA and MSIs. A Distinguished Scientist position 
must be created at the Center to develop significant research projects 
for the Center with other EPP Centers, with other MSIs, other NOAA 
science and research facilities and relevant agencies. Staff and 
faculty exchanges will be an integral part of this program and 
opportunities will be made available to participate in collaborative 
research or other agreed upon activities. NOAA expects the Center to 
develop mechanisms and approaches to increase

[[Page 48469]]

opportunities to make courses and seminars offered at the Center 
available to students at other MSIs and partner institutions. The 
Center will also be required to use a minimum of thirty percent (30%) 
of the award for student support, which includes, but is not limited 
to, scholarships, fellowships, travel expenses to professional 
meetings, and for conducting site research. While the Center will be 
established at an MSI, consortia with non-minority serving institutions 
partners will not be restricted. Private sector partnerships are also 
encouraged.
    Proposals for the Scientific Environmental Technology (SET) 
Cooperative Science Center should address the ability to support 
education and research in physical and social sciences at an MSI. The 
physical sciences include but are not limited to, meteorological and 
oceanographic sensor and satellite telecommunications technologies, 
remote sensing, and observational and information technology systems, 
applied mathematics, applied physics and computer applications and 
engineering. For the purposes of this program Scientific Environmental 
Technology includes an emphasis on the following: meteorological 
sensors (wind, visibility, humidity, etc.), oceanographic sensors 
(wave, water quality, microwave altimeters, beacons, navigational, 
etc.), airborne and ship based observing systems, chemical 
observations, observational and information technology systems 
(satellite telecommunications, telecommunications, data collection 
packages, modems, drivers, protocols, etc.). Scientific Environmental 
Technology also includes the analysis of global observing systems, 
including simulations to determine the role of each observing 
subsystem, determination of optimal mixes of observing systems, and the 
costs associated with various observing systems.
    Graduates must be able to carry out a variety of tasks including: 
Understanding meteorological and oceanographic needs; identifying 
potential sensor, observational, and information technologies; 
developing sensor; observational, and information technology systems; 
testing and evaluating meteorological and/or oceanographic systems. 
NOAA anticipates that as the EPP program becomes more established and 
more minority students graduate in NOAA-related sciences, the agency 
will have a larger pool of candidates from which to hire. An increase 
in the number of students trained and graduating in science and 
engineering will be beneficial to the nation as a whole, because NOAA 
relies on its partnerships with state, local and tribal governments, as 
well as with community interest groups, to accomplish its mission.

Electronic Access

    Applicants can access download and submit electronic grant 
applications, including the full funding announcement, for NOAA 
programs at the Grants.gov Web site: http://www.grants.gov. The 
announcement will also be available at the NOAA Web site http://
www.ofa.noaa.gov/%7Eamd/SOLINDEX.HTML or by contacting the program 
official identified above. The closing date will be the same as for the 
paper submissions noted in this announcement. NOAA strongly recommends 
that applicants not wait until the application deadline date to begin 
the application process through Grants.gov.
    If Internet access is unavailable, hard copies of proposals will 
also be accepted--a signed original and two copies at time of 
submission. This includes color or high-resolution graphics, unusually 
sized materials, or otherwise unusual materials submitted as part of 
the proposal. For color graphics, submit either color originals or 
color copies. Facsimile transmissions and electronic mail submission of 
full proposals will not be accepted.
    Funding Availability: This solicitation announces that funding up 
to $2 million will be available in FY 2006, with a maximum of $12.5 
million over a five (5) year period, subject to appropriations. 
Applications in excess of $2 million in the first year will not be 
considered. It is anticipated that the funding instrument will be a 
cooperative agreement since NOAA will be substantially involved in 
developing research priorities, conducting cooperative activities with 
recipients, exchanging staff and providing internship opportunities for 
students at MSIs. Only one award will be made to establish a Scientific 
Environmental Cooperative Science Center.

    Authorities: 15 U.S.C. 1540, 49 U.S.C. 44720, 33 U.S.C. 883d, 33 
U.S.C. 1442, 16 U.S.C. 1854(e), 16 U.S.C. 661, 16 U.S.C. 753(a), 16 
U.S.C. 1451 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 1431, 33 U.S.C. 883a and Executive 
Orders 12876, 12900, 13021, 13336, and 13339.

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance: 11.481--Educational 
Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions.
    Eligibility: For the purposes of this program, Historically Black 
Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Tribal 
Colleges and Universities, and Alaska Native & Native Hawaiian Serving 
Institutions, as identified on the 2004 United States Department of 
Education, Accredited Postsecondary Minority Institution list at http:/
/www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/minorityinst2004.pdf, are eligible 
to apply. Proposals will not be accepted from non-profit organizations, 
foundations, auxiliary services or any other entity submitted on behalf 
of MSIs.
    Cost Sharing Requirements: None.
    Intergovernmental Review: Applications under this program are not 
subject to Executive Order 12372, ``Intergovernmental Review of Federal 
Programs.''

Evaluation and Selection Procedures

    Once an application is received by NOAA, an initial administrative 
review is conducted to determine compliance with requirements and 
completeness of the application. All applications that meet the 
requirements and are complete will be evaluated and scored individually 
in accordance with the assigned weights of the evaluation criteria by 
an independent peer review panel. Both Federal and non-Federal experts 
in the field may be used in the process. Each peer panel reviewer will 
score proposals on a scale of five to one, where scores represent 
respectively: Excellent (5), Very Good (4), Good (3), Fair (2), Poor 
(1). The peer review panel will be comprised of 5 to 7 individuals, 
with each individual having expertise in a separate area, so that the 
panel, as a whole, covers a range of scientific expertise.
    The individual peer panelist scores shall be averaged for each 
application and presented to the Program Officer. No consensus advice 
will be given by the independent peer the review panel.
    The Program Officer will neither vote nor score proposals as part 
of the independent peer panel nor participate in discussion of the 
merits of the proposal. Those proposals receiving an average panel 
score of ``Good'', ``Fair'', or ``Poor'' will not be given further 
consideration, and applicants will be notified of non-selection. For 
the proposals receiving an average score of either ``Excellent'' or 
``Very Good, the Program Officer will (a) rank the proposals by average 
panel ratings, and/or by applying the project selection factors listed 
below; (b) determine the total duration of funding for the selected 
proposal; and (c) determine the amount of funds available for the 
selected proposal subject to the availability of fiscal year funds. A 
recommendation for funding is then forwarded to the selecting official, 
the Deputy Assistant

[[Page 48470]]

Administrator (DAA) of OAR, for the final funding decision. In making 
the final selection, the DAA will award in rank order unless the 
selected proposal is justified to be selected out of rank order based 
on the selection factors listed below.
    Investigators may be asked to modify objectives, work plans or 
budgets, and provide supplemental information required by the agency 
prior to the award. When a decision has been made (whether an award or 
declination), verbatim anonymous copies of reviews and summaries of 
review panel deliberations, if any, will be made available to the 
applicant upon applicant request. Declined applications will be held in 
the NOAA EPP for the required 3 years in accordance with the current 
retention requirements, and then destroyed.
    Evaluation Criteria: Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of 
the following evaluation criteria at the indicated weights:
    (1) Importance and/or relevance and applicability of proposed 
project to the program goals. This ascertains whether there is 
intrinsic value in the proposed work and/or relevance to NOAA, Federal, 
regional, state, or local activities (25 percent).
    (2) Technical/scientific merit: This assesses whether the approach 
is technically sound and/or innovative, if the methods are appropriate, 
and whether there are clear project goals and objectives (25 percent).
    (3) Overall qualifications of applicants: This ascertains whether 
the applicant possesses the necessary education, experience, training, 
facilities, and administrative resources to accomplish the project, 
including a PhD program in the core science area (10 percent):
    (4) Project costs: The Budget is evaluated to determine if it is 
realistic and commensurate with the project needs and time-frame (10 
percent):
    (5) Outreach and education: NOAA assesses whether this project 
provides a focused and effective education and outreach strategy 
regarding NOAA's mission to protect the Nation's natural resources. (30 
percent):
    Selection Factors: The merit review ratings shall provide a rank 
order to the Selecting Official for final funding recommendation. A 
program officer may first make a recommendation to the Selecting 
Official applying the selection factors below. The Selecting Official 
shall award in the rank order unless the proposal is justified to be 
selected out of rank order based upon one or more of the following 
factors:
    1. Availability of funding.
    2. Balance/distribution of funds:
    a. Geographically.
    b. By type of institutions.
    c. By type of partners.
    d. By research areas.
    e. By project types.
    3. Whether this project duplicates other projects funded or 
considered for funding by NOAA or other federal agencies.
    4. Program priorities and policy factors set forth in sections I.A. 
and B. and IV.B. of the Full Funding Opportunity.
    5. Applicant's prior award performance.
    6. Partnerships and/or Participation of targeted groups
    7. Adequacy of information necessary for NOAA to make a NEPA 
determination and draft necessary documentation before recommendations 
for funding are made to the Grants Officer.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    NOAA must analyze the potential environmental impacts, as required 
by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), for applicant projects 
or proposals which are seeking NOAA Federal funding opportunities. 
Detailed information on NOAA compliance with NEPA can be found at the 
following NOAA NEPA Web site: http://www.nepa.noaa.gov/, including our 
NOAA Administrative Order 216-6 for NEPA, http://www.nepa.noaa.gov/
NAO216_6_TOC.pdf, and the Council on Environmental Quality 
implementation regulations, http://ceq.eh.doe.gov/nepa/regs/ceq/toc_
ceq.htm.
    Consequently, as part of an applicant's package, and under their 
description of their program activities, applicants are required to 
provide detailed information on the activities to be conducted, 
locations, sites, species and habitat to be affected, possible 
construction activities, and any environmental concerns that may exist 
(e.g., the use and disposal of hazardous or toxic chemicals, 
introduction of non-indigenous species, impacts to endangered and 
threatened species, aquaculture projects, and impacts to coral reef 
systems). In addition to providing specific information that will serve 
as the basis for any required impact analyses, applicants may also be 
requested to assist NOAA in drafting of an environmental assessment, if 
NOAA determines an assessment is required. Applicants will also be 
required to cooperate with NOAA in identifying feasible measures to 
reduce or avoid any identified adverse environmental impacts of their 
proposal. The failure to do so shall be grounds for not selecting an 
application. In some cases if additional information is required after 
an application is selected, funds can be withheld by the Grants Officer 
under a special award condition requiring the recipient to submit 
additional environmental compliance information sufficient to enable 
NOAA to make an assessment on any impacts that a project may have on 
the environment.

Pre-Award Notification Requirements for Grants and Cooperative 
Agreements

    The Department of Commerce Pre-Award Notification Requirements for 
Grants and Cooperative Agreements contained in the Federal Register 
notice of December 30, 2004 (69 FR 78389) are applicable to this 
solicitation.

Limitation of Liability

    In no event will NOAA or the Department of Commerce be responsible 
for proposal preparation costs if these programs fail to receive 
funding or are cancelled because of other agency priorities. 
Publication of this announcement does not oblige NOAA to award any 
specific project or to obligate any available funds. Recipients and 
sub-recipients are subject to all Federal laws and agency policies, 
regulations and procedures applicable to Federal financial assistance 
awards.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This notification involves collection-of-information requirements 
subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act. The use of Standard Forms 424, 
424A, 424B, and SF-LLL and CD-346 has been approved by the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) under control numbers 0348-0043, 0348-0044, 
0348-0040 and 0348-0046 and 0605-0001. Notwithstanding any other 
provision of law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any 
person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a collection 
of information subject to the requirements of the PRA unless that 
collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control 
number.

Executive Order 12866

    It has been determined that this notice is not significant for 
purposes of Executive Order 12866.

Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

    It has been determined that this notice does not contain policies 
withFederalism implications as that term is defined in Executive Order 
13132.

[[Page 48471]]

Administrative Procedure Act/Regulatory Flexibility Act

    Prior notice and an opportunity for public comment are not required 
by the Administrative Procedure Act or any other law for rules 
concerning public property, loans, grants, benefits, and contracts (5 
U.S.C. 553(a)(2)). Because notice and opportunity for comments are not 
required pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553 or any other law, the analytical 
requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) 
are inapplicable. Therefore, a regulatory flexibility analysis has not 
been prepared, and none has been prepared. It has been determined that 
this notice does not contain policies with Federalism implications as 
that term is defined in Executive Order 13132.

    Dated: August 10, 2005.
Louisa Koch,
Deputy Assistant Administrator for NOAA Research.
[FR Doc. 05-16246 Filed 8-16-05; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-KD-P