[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 240 (Thursday, December 15, 2005)]
[Notices]
[Pages 74302-74305]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E5-7398]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

[Docket No.: 030602141-5300-29]


Financial Assistance To Administer NOAA's Educational Partnership 
Program (EPP) With Minority Serving Institutions (MSI), Undergraduate 
Scholarship Program

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

ACTION: Notice of criteria to administer the EPP/MSI Undergraduate 
Scholarship Program; and notice of availability of funds and 
solicitation for proposals for these funds.

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SUMMARY: The purpose of this document is to advise the public that 
NOAA's Educational Partnership Program is soliciting not-for-profit 
organizations to administer its Undergraduate Scholarship Program. The 
goal of the Undergraduate Scholarship Program is to increase the number 
of students who undertake course work and graduate with degrees in the 
targeted areas integral to NOAA's mission. This program targets 
students who have completed their sophomore year; attend Minority 
Serving Institutions; majoring in mathematics, science, or engineering; 
and have recently declared, or about to declare a major in atmospheric, 
oceanic, remote sensing technology, or environmental science 
disciplines.
    The Undergraduate Scholarship participants must be U.S. citizens 
and attend an MSI including Hispanic Serving Institutions, Historically 
Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal College and Universities, 
Alaska-Native Serving Institutions, and Native Hawaiian Serving 
Institutions full-time, be pursuing studies in atmospheric science, 
biology, cartography, chemistry, computer science, engineering, 
environmental science, geodesy, geography, marine science, mathematics, 
meteorology, physical science, oceanography, marine biology, 
photogrammetry, or physics. Participants must have, and maintain, a 
minimum 3.0 grade point average.

DATES: Applications must be received by NOAA Educational Partnership 
Program (EPP) no later than 2 p.m. (eastern standard time), February 
13, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Applications submitted in response to this announcement 
should be submitted through the Grants.gov Web site. Electronic access 
to the full funding opportunity 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 EPP Web site http://
epp.noaa.gov or by contacting the program official identified below. 
Applicants must comply with all requirements contained in the full 
funding opportunity announcement. Paper applications (a signed original 
and two copies) may also be submitted to the Educational Partnership 
Program at the following address: NOAA/EPP, 1315 East West Highway, 
Room 10703, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910. No facsimile applications 
will be accepted.

[[Page 74303]]

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 
Chantell.Haskins@noaa.gov. Information should include a general 
description of the program administration proposal.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Chantell Haskins, Program Manager at 
(301) 713-9437 ext. 125 or Chantell.Haskins@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    NOAA is committed to training students in NOAA related sciences to 
increase the number of trained and graduating students. Therefore, the 
agency established a program aimed at partnering with MSIs that train 
and graduate students in the areas of atmospheric, oceanic and 
environmental sciences, fisheries sciences, and management, and remote 
sensing. Since approximately 40% of minority students receive their 
undergraduate degrees at MSIs, direct collaboration with MSIs is an 
effective way to increase the number of students from underrepresented 
communities who are trained and graduated in NOAA-related sciences.
    With such a limited pool of potential employees from 
underrepresented communities 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 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 
Educational Partnership Program (EPP) with Minority Serving 
Institutions (MSIs) is a competitive program designed to develop and/or 
enhance the collaboration between NOAA and the MSI community to 
increase the number of students who pursue coursework and graduate with 
degrees in NOAA-related sciences. The program encourages undergraduate 
student's participation in research projects that will facilitate 
familiarity with NOAA sciences in their academic institutions. For the 
purposes of this announcement, MSIs are defined as Historically Black 
Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Tribal 
Colleges and Universities, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving 
Institutions as defined by the Department of Education and the most 
recent list can be found on the NOAA EPP Web site at http://
epp.nooaa.gov.
    The goal of the NOAA EPP/MSI Undergraduate Scholarship Program is 
to increase the number of students who undertake course work and 
graduate with degrees in the targeted areas integral to NOAA's mission. 
This program targets students, attending Minority Serving Institutions, 
who have completed their sophomore year, and have declared, or about to 
declare a major in atmospheric, oceanic, or environmental science 
disciplines (i.e., atmospheric science, biology, cartography, 
chemistry, computer science, engineering, environmental science, 
geodesy, geography, marine science, mathematics, meteorology, 
photogrammetry, physical science, physics and remote sensing). 
Competitive appointments will be made to students attending MSIs at 
approved NOAA offices and facilities. This program provides travel to 
students to approved NOAA offices and facilities; have students 
participate in current research and development activities; and 
provides financial assistance for tuition and fee costs to students for 
two academic years and two summers. Progress of the students is 
monitored throughout the academic years and during the summer 
internships. The program requires that the first summer internship be 
spent at a NOAA facility in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. The 
program requires that each student attend a roundtable discussion and 
give oral presentations on their research at NOAA Headquarters in 
Silver Spring, Maryland, at the conclusion of summer internships. The 
program requires that each second year student travel during their 
winter semester break to an approved NOAA site to make arrangements for 
the second summer internship.
    Electronic Access: Applicants can access download and submit 
electronic grant applications, including the full funding opportunity 
announcement, for NOAA programs at the Grants.gov Web site: http://
www.grants.gov. The announcement will also be available at the NOAA EPP 
Web site http://epp.noaa.gov 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 
you do 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. The project description 
(including relevant results from prior training programs) should not 
exceed 15 pages. Page limits are inclusive of figures, and other visual 
materials, but are exclusive of references, milestone charts, letters 
of collaboration from unfounded collaborators, letters of endorsement, 
and curriculum vitae which may not exceed 2 pages for each principal, 
program administrator/coordinator. 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: Subject to appropriations, this solicitation 
announces that funding at a maximum of $500,000 will be available for 
program administration of the Undergraduate Scholarship Program over a 
two-year period. The proposal is limited to a total of $500,000 for a 
maximum of two years and one proposal will be funded. Up to 18% of 
$500,000 is allowed for administrative overhead and at least 82% of 
$500,000 is for student support. It is anticipated that the funding 
instrument will be a cooperative agreement since NOAA will be 
substantially involved in identifying NOAA facilities to place students 
during the two summer internships, and with collaboration, 
participation, or intervention in project performance.
    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: Proposals will only be accepted from non-profit 
organizations.
    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. The initial administrative review will be based on:
    1. Eligibility--Proposals will only be accepted and reviewed from 
not-for-profit organizations (as defined in Section IIIA of the full 
funding opportunity announcement:

[[Page 74304]]

    2. Submission date--Proposals will only be accepted and reviewed if 
they are received in the NOAA EPP office by the designated deadline;
    3. Project cost--Proposals will only be accepted and reviewed if 
the administrative overhead costs are no more than 18% of the total 
award.
    Each application that meet the requirements and is complete will be 
evaluated and scored individually in accordance with the assigned 
weights of the evaluation criteria by an independent peer review panel. 
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). Each peer review panel will be comprised 
of 3 to 5 individuals, having expertise in the program management of 
student fellowship, scholarship, or internship programs in the areas of 
science and technology. The individual peer review panelist scores 
shall be averaged for each application and presented to the Program 
Officer. No consensus advice will be given by the independent peer to 
the review panel. The Program Officer will neither vote nor score 
proposals as part of the independent peer review 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 rated by the panel as 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 Director, NOAA Office of Education, for the final funding 
decision. In making the final selection, the Director will award to the 
highest scoring applicant unless the selected proposal is justified to 
be selected out of rank order based on the selection factors listed 
below. Investigator 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.
    (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.
    (3) Overall qualifications of applicants: This ascertains whether 
the applicant possesses the necessary education, experience, training, 
facilities, and administrative resources to accomplish the project
    (4) Project costs: The Budget is evaluated to determine if it is 
realistic and commensurate with the project needs and time-frame.
    (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.
    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 numbers 1, 4, 5 and 6 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, ``Implementing the National 
Environmental Policy Act'', March 10,1983 is: <http://www.osec.doc.gov/
bmi/daos/216-6.htmhttp://www.osec.doc.gov/bmi/daos/216-
6.htm, 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 the denial of an 
application. In some cases if additional information is required after 
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

[[Page 74305]]

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

    Funding for the program administration listed in this notice is 
contingent upon availability of Fiscal Year 2006 appropriations. 
Applicants are hereby given notice that funds have not yet been 
appropriated for the Undergraduate Scholarship Program. In no event 
will NOAA or the Department of Commerce accept responsibility 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 
with federalism implications as that term is defined in Executive Order 
13132.

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.

Mark Brown,
Chief Financial Officer, NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.
[FR Doc. E5-7398 Filed 12-14-05; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-JE-P