[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 108 (Tuesday, June 6, 2006)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 32479-32484]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E6-8704]


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Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.

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Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 108 / Tuesday, June 6, 2006 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 32479]]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service

7 CFR Part 3411

RIN 0524-AA32


National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program--
Revisions to Administrative Provisions

AGENCY: Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, 
USDA.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: The Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension 
Service (CSREES) proposes to update and make technical corrections to 
the administrative provisions for the National Research Initiative 
Competitive Grants Program (NRICGP). In addition, CSREES proposes 
substantive revisions to 7 CFR 3411.3(d), the ``Eligibility 
requirements'' for NRICGP Postdoctoral Fellowships, New Investigator 
Awards, and Strengthening Awards, and to 7 CFR 3411.4(c)(8), Agency 
instructions to applicants preparing project budgets for NRICGP 
conference grants and postdoctoral fellowships. CSREES anticipates the 
proposed changes to the eligibility requirements would increase the 
impact of the Agricultural Research Enhancement Awards, while the 
proposed changes to the budget instructions would facilitate additional 
conference and postdoctoral fellowship awards.

DATES: The Agency must receive comments on or before August 7, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be sent to Erin Daly; United States 
Department of Agriculture; Cooperative State Research, Education, and 
Extension Service, STOP 2299, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Washington, 
DC 20250-2299. Comments may also be sent via electronic mail to 
edaly@csrees.usda.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gail McLean at (202) 401-6060 or via 
electronic mail at gmclean@csrees.usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Overview

    The Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service 
(CSREES) proposes revisions to the administrative provisions for the 
National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program (NRICGP), which 
was authorized in section 2(b) of the Act of August 4, 1965, as amended 
by section 1615 of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act 
of 1990 (FACT Act), (7 U.S.C. 450i(b)). Some of the revisions are mere 
technical corrections, including updates to the Agency's name. Other 
revisions reflect the Agency's developing capabilities to exchange 
proposal and grant data electronically. Finally, CSREES proposes 
substantive revisions to the eligibility requirements for Agricultural 
Research Enhancement Awards (7 CFR 3411.3(d)) and the Agency's 
instructions to applicants preparing project budgets for NRICGP 
conference grants and postdoctoral fellowships (7 CFR 3411.4(c)(8)).
    The Agricultural Research Enhancement Awards are intended to help 
institutions develop competitive research programs and to attract 
scientists to research in agriculture, food, and environmental 
sciences. To increase the impact of the Agricultural Research 
Enhancement Awards, CSREES proposes changing the eligibility 
requirements for Postdoctoral Fellowships, New Investigator Awards, and 
Strengthening Awards. Anticipated impacts would include: (1) For 
Postdoctoral Fellowships, improved funding continuity and potentially 
more postdoctoral scientists entering into an agricultural research 
career; (2) for New Investigator Awards, improved project design and 
increased probability of a successful agricultural research program; 
and (3) for Strengthening Awards, improved research project continuity 
and more incentive for researchers to stay at USDA-Experimental Program 
for Stimulating Competitive Research (EPSCoR) or small/mid-sized 
institutions. The proposed revisions to Agency instructions regarding 
the preparation of project budgets apply narrowly and should optimize 
the use of NRICGP funds for scientific meetings and for postdoctoral 
researchers.

Postdoctoral Fellowships

    Current provisions indicate a postdoctoral fellowship applicant 
should not have received a doctoral degree before January 1 of the 
fiscal year three years prior to the submission of the proposal and not 
later than June 15 of the fiscal year during which the proposal is 
submitted (7 CFR 3411.3(d)(1)(i)). In the past, NRICGP proposal 
submission dates were grouped together and occurred within an 
approximate range of three to four months. As a result, applicants had 
similar amounts of time from the date they submitted their proposals 
until they were notified of awards. This was important because 
applicants used the time to arrange for postdoctoral positions and 
ensure continuity of funding for their postdoctoral research.
    Now, however, NRICGP proposal submission dates are spread 
throughout the year. The current provisions put at a disadvantage 
postdoctoral fellowship applicants to NRICGP programs with proposal 
submission dates that are later in the fiscal year than the doctoral 
degree cutoff date of June 15. In order to ensure the availability of 
their awards, applicants to these programs may wait a year between 
receiving their doctoral degrees and applying for the postdoctoral 
fellowships. The gap in funding can result in postdoctoral researchers 
leaving agricultural research because they cannot find a laboratory 
with sufficient funding to support them during this interim.
    CSREES proposes revising the provisions for NRICGP postdoctoral 
fellowships to base cutoff dates for receipt of doctoral degrees on 
proposal due dates for specific NRICGP programs. This change would add 
equity to the process and allow applicants sufficient time to make 
arrangements for financial support of their postdoctoral research prior 
to graduation. In doing so, it should further the engagement of the 
best and brightest young scientists in agricultural research.

New Investigator Awards

    The current provisions require that, in addition to the Project 
Director, all co-Project Directors must meet NRICGP New Investigator 
Award eligibility requirements (7 CFR 3411.3(d)(2)). When evaluating 
the scientific merit of

[[Page 32480]]

a proposal, reviewers frequently suggest that New Investigators work 
with established investigators. Established investigators can provide 
valuable expertise on scientific subjects and experimental methods that 
New Investigators need for successful research projects. The 
interaction between New Investigators and established investigators can 
be more than simple collaboration and require sharing of funds and 
significant interaction. The current eligibility requirements for New 
Investigator Awards inhibit, if not prevent, these close relationships. 
CSREES proposes revising the eligibility requirements for New 
Investigator Awards so that they apply to Project Directors only. As 
the Project Director, the New Investigator would maintain the primary 
responsibility for the research and the funding.
    Currently, applicants are ineligible for New Investigator Awards if 
they have received competitively-awarded Federal research funds beyond 
the level of pre-or postdoctoral research awards (7 CFR 3411.3(d)(2)). 
As a result, CSREES is not able to make New Investigator Awards to 
former recipients of NRICGP seed grants. NRICGP seed grants are 
relatively small awards that enable investigators to collect 
preliminary data they can use to prepare standard research grant 
applications. Seed grant eligibility is limited to faculty with 
appointments at (1) small and mid-sized degree-granting institutions 
that are not in the top 100 most successful institutions; and (2) 
degree-granting institutions eligible for USDA-EPSCoR funding. CSREES 
proposes revising the NRICGP New Investigator Award provisions so that 
former recipients of NRICGP seed grants are eligible to apply for these 
funds. By allowing investigators who received seed grants to remain 
eligible for New Investigator Awards, CSREES hopes to increase the 
chances that beginning scientists will achieve funding and continuation 
of agricultural research projects.

Strengthening Awards

    According to the eligibility requirements for Research Career 
Enhancement Awards, Seed Grants, and Strengthening Standard Research 
Project Awards, no investigators on the Proposal Cover Page may have 
received a USDA NRICGP competitive research grant within the last 5 
years (7 CFR 3411.3(d)(3)(ii)(A)). CSREES proposes removing this 
restriction so that investigators from eligible institutions can apply 
for these types of Strengthening Awards regardless of having received 
NRICGP awards in the past. The Agency believes this will increase the 
likelihood that investigators at institutions in EPSCoR states, and 
those at institutions with small to mid-sized enrollment, will have the 
funding stability necessary for successful agricultural research 
programs. Often researchers from these institutions have difficulty 
renewing strengthening awards. Although their projects have important 
scientific merit, they tend to be limited in size and scope due to, for 
example, teaching commitments, equipment access, and smaller numbers of 
students and postdoctoral researchers. Thus, these proposals do not 
compete well against projects from larger research institutions that 
have more resources and personnel. This change will improve funding 
continuity and provide incentives for established researchers to stay 
at EPSCoR or small/mid-sized institutions. In doing so, it will 
strengthen the institutions and the future of agricultural research 
through increased opportunities for students to participate in active, 
successful agricultural research projects.
    The current provisions require that, in addition to the Project 
Director, all co-Project Directors must meet NRICGP Strengthening Award 
eligibility requirements (7 CFR 3411.3(d)(3)(ii)(B)). As with a similar 
restriction placed on New Investigators, this requirement unnecessarily 
hampers close relationships between investigators who can provide 
expertise needed to successfully complete a project. CSREES proposes 
revising the eligibility requirements for these types of NRICGP 
Strengthening Awards so that they apply to Project Directors only.

Indirect Costs--Conference Awards and Postdoctoral Fellowships

    CSREES proposes adding language to 7 CFR 3411.4(c)(8) that 
prohibits indirect costs for conference awards and postdoctoral 
fellowships. Currently, CSREES restricts conference awardees' recovery 
of indirect costs to 20% of total Federal funds, as provided in Section 
709 of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug 
Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006 (Pub. L. 
109-97). Conference awards support meetings that bring together 
scientists to identify research needs, update information, or advance 
an area of research. Typically, these awards are modest. They rarely 
exceed $10,000, but are recognized as integral to research efforts. 
Where grantees incur administrative costs relative to sponsoring such 
conferences (especially in off-site locations), the Agency believes the 
administrative costs are negligible.
    In accordance with its fiscal year 2006 Request for Applications 
(RFA) for NRICGP (available at http://www.csrees.usda.gov/funding/rfas/
nri_rfa.html), CSREES allows postdoctoral fellowship awardees to 
request an institutional allowance (not to exceed $2,400 per year) or 
indirect costs within the $125,000 maximum award limit. Postdoctoral 
fellowship applicants primarily request funds for salary support, 
although they are allowed to request other expenditures (e.g., 
supplies, travel, and publication) if they properly justify them. These 
awards allow postdoctoral researchers to develop independent research 
projects they can take with them to career-track positions. 
Postdoctoral fellowships play an important role in attracting and 
supporting beginning researchers in agricultural sciences. For 
postdoctoral fellowships, CSREES proposes that it continue to indicate 
in its annual NRICGP RFA a maximum institutional allowance, and that, 
in accordance with revised administrative provisions, the Agency plans 
to make this allowance available to awardees in lieu of indirect costs.
    CSREES is soliciting public comments regarding this proposed rule 
and will consider and address such comments in subsequent rulemaking on 
this subject. Comments should be submitted as provided for in the 
ADDRESSES and DATES portions of this proposed rule.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995--Information Collection

    Under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 
U.S.C. chapter 35), the collection of information requirements 
contained in this Proposed Rule have been approved (OMB Approval No. 
0524-0039).

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    USDA certifies that this proposed rule will not have a significant 
impact on a substantial number of small entities as defined in the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act, Public Law 96-354, as amended (5 U.S.C. 
601, et seq.) because it is a Federal assistance program, not a 
regulatory regime, and the majority of awards will be made to colleges 
and universities that do not qualify as small entities.

Executive Order 12866

    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12866 and has 
been determined to be nonsignificant as it will not create a serious 
inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action planned by another 
agency; will not

[[Page 32481]]

materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlement, grants, user 
fees, or loan programs, or rights and obligations of the recipients 
thereof; and will not raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of 
legal mandates, the President's priorities, or principles set forth in 
this Executive Order. This rule will not have an annual effect on the 
economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way 
the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public 
health, or safety, or State, local, or Tribal governments or 
communities.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    Pursuant to Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 
(Pub. L. 104-4), the Department assessed the effects of this rulemaking 
action on State, local, and Tribal government, and the public. This 
action does not compel the expenditure of $100 million or more by any 
State, local, or Tribal governments, or anyone in the private sector. 
Therefore, a statement under Section 202 of the Unfunded Mandates 
Reform Act of 1995 is not required.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small 
Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. This rule:
    (1) Does not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million 
or more;
    (2) Will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for 
consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local government 
agencies, or geographic regions; and
    (3) Does not have significant adverse effects on competition, 
employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of 
U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises.

Executive Order 12988

    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. In accordance with the Executive Order: (1) All State 
and local laws and regulations that are in conflict with this rule will 
be preempted; (2) no retroactive effect will be given to this rule; (3) 
no administrative proceedings are required before bringing any judicial 
action regarding this rule.

Executive Order 13132

    In accordance with Executive Order 13132, this rulemaking does not 
have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a 
Federalism Assessment. The policies contained in this rule do not have 
any substantial direct effect on policymaking discretion of the States, 
on the relationship between the national government and the States, or 
on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various 
levels of government. Nor does this rule impose substantial direct 
compliance costs on State and local governments.

Executive Order 12372

    For the reasons set forth in the Final Rule Related Notice for 7 
CFR part 3015, subpart V (48 FR 29115, June 24, 1983), this program is 
excluded from the scope of the Executive Order 12372 which requires 
intergovernmental consultation with State and local officials. This 
program does not directly affect State and local governments.

Executive Order 13175

    The policies contained in this rulemaking do not have tribal 
implications and thus no further action is required under Executive 
Order 13175.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 3411

    Agricultural research, Grant programs--agriculture, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Cooperative State 
Research, Education, and Extension Service proposes to amend 7 CFR part 
3411 to read as set forth below:

PART 3411--NATIONAL RESEARCH INITIATIVE COMPETITIVE GRANTS PROGRAM

    1. The authority citation for part 3411 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: Sec. 2(i) of the Act of August 4, 1965, as amended (7 
U.S.C. 450i(i)).

Subpart A--General

    2. Revise paragraph (a) of Sec.  3411.1 to read as follows:


Sec.  3411.1  Applicability of regulations.

    (a) The regulations of this part apply to competitive research 
grants awarded under the authority of section 2(b) of the Act of August 
4, 1965, as amended by section 1615 of the Food, Agriculture, 
Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (FACT Act), (7 U.S.C. 450i(b)), for 
the support of research to further the programs of the Department of 
Agriculture and to improve research capabilities in the agricultural, 
food, and environmental sciences in the following categories: Single 
investigators or coinvestigators in the same disciplines; teams of 
researchers from different disciplines; multidisciplinary teams for 
long-term applied research problems; multidisciplinary teams whose 
research has the eventual goal of technology transfer and education 
capacity through the acquisition of special research equipment and 
improvement of teaching and education, including fellowships; single 
investigators or coinvestigators who are beginning their research 
careers; and, faculty of small and mid-sized institutions not 
previously successful in obtaining competitive grants under this 
subsection. In accordance with Public Law 104-127, within the 
Department of Agriculture, the Secretary established the National 
Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory 
Board (NAREEEAB) to provide overall guidance to the Research, Education 
and Economics mission area on policies and priorities related to 
programs, including NRICGP. In addition to the stakeholder listening 
sessions NAREEEAB sponsors, CSREES receives stakeholder input on 
policies and priorities related to NRICGP from multiple sources 
including scientific societies; the National Research Council of the 
National Academy of Sciences; producers, processors, industry; the 
land-grant university system; non-governmental organizations; and other 
federal agencies; and through international coordination. The 
Administrator of CSREES shall determine and announce, through 
publication of a notice on the CSREES Web site (http://
www.csrees.usda.gov), the government-wide funding opportunities Web 
site (http://www.grants.gov), or in such publications as the Federal 
Register, professional trade journals, agency or program handbooks, the 
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, or any other appropriate means, 
high-priority research areas and categories for which proposals will be 
solicited and the extent that funds are made available therefore.
* * * * *
    3. Revise paragraphs (a) and (c) of Sec.  3411.2 to read as 
follows:


Sec.  3411.2  Definitions.

* * * * *
    (a) Administrator means the Administrator of the Cooperative State 
Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) and any other 
officer or employee of the Department of Agriculture to whom the 
authority involved may be delegated.
* * * * *
    (c) Project Director means a single individual who is responsible 
for the scientific and technical direction of the project, as 
designated by the grantee in

[[Page 32482]]

the grant application and approved by the Administrator.
* * * * *
    4. Amend Sec.  3411.3 by revising paragraphs (a), (d) introductory 
text, (d)(1) introductory text, (d)(1)(i), (d)(2), and (d)(3)(ii) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  3411.3  Eligibility requirements.

* * * * *
    (a) For research projects, except where otherwise prohibited by 
law, State agricultural experiment stations, all colleges and 
universities, other research institutions and organizations, Federal 
agencies, private organizations or corporations, and individuals shall 
be eligible to apply for and receive a competitive grant under this 
part, provided that the applicant qualifies as a responsible grantee 
under the criteria set forth in paragraph (b) of this section.
* * * * *
    (d) Agricultural Research Enhancement Awards. In addition to 
paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) of this section, the following eligibility 
requirements apply to Agricultural Research Enhancement Awards for 
research projects (Program reserves the right to specify funding 
limitations and administrative requirements each year in the program 
solicitation):
    (1) Postdoctoral Fellowships. In accordance with section 2(b)(3)(D) 
of the Act of August 4, 1965, as amended, individuals who recently have 
received or will soon receive their doctoral degree may submit 
proposals for postdoctoral fellowships. The following eligibility 
requirements apply:
    (i) The doctoral degree of the applicant must be received not 
earlier than January 1 of the fiscal year three years prior to the 
submission of the proposal and not later than nine months after the 
proposal due date;
* * * * *
    (2) New Investigator Awards. Pursuant to section 2(b)(3)(E) of the 
Act of August 4, 1965, as amended, Project Directors who are beginning 
their research careers, do not have an extensive research publication 
record, and have less than 5 years of post-graduate, career-track 
research experience, may submit proposals as new investigators. 
Applicants may not have received competitively-awarded Federal research 
funds beyond the level of pre- or postdoctoral research awards or USDA 
NRICGP seed grants.
    (3) Strengthening Awards.
* * * * *
    (ii) Research Career Enhancement Awards, Seed Grants, and 
Strengthening Standard Research Project Awards. The following 
eligibility requirements apply to Research Career Enhancement Awards, 
Seed Grants, and Strengthening Standard Research Project Awards:
    (A) The Project Director listed on the Application For Funding must 
be from a small or mid-sized institution that is not among the top 100 
universities and colleges for receiving Federal funds for science and 
engineering research as specified in the annual program solicitation or 
must be from an institution located in a USDA-EPSCoR state.
    (B) Every investigator listed on the Application For Funding must 
have an appointment at a degree granting institution.
    5. Amend Sec.  3411.4 by revising paragraphs (a) introductory text, 
(a)(4), (a)(5), (c)(3) introductory text, (c)(7) introductory text, 
(c)(8), (c)(11), and (c)(13) to read as follows:


Sec.  3411.4  How to apply for a grant.

    (a) Program solicitations will be prepared and announced through 
publication on the government-wide funding opportunities Web site 
(http://www.grants.gov) as early as practicable each fiscal year. It 
will contain information sufficient to enable all eligible applicants 
to prepare competitive grant proposals and will be as complete as 
possible with respect to:
* * * * *
    (4) Deadline dates for receipt of proposal packages;
    (5) Submission addresses;
* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (c) Format for grant proposals.
* * * * *
    (3) Project Description. The specific aims of the project must be 
included in all proposals. The text of the project description may not 
exceed 18 single- or double-spaced pages and must contain the following 
components:
* * * * *
    (7) Personnel support. To assist peer reviewers in assessing the 
competence and experience of the proposed project staff, all personnel 
who will be involved in the proposed project must be identified 
clearly. For each Project Director involved, and for all senior 
associates and other professional personnel who expect to work on the 
project, whether or not funds are sought for their support, the 
following should be included:
* * * * *
    (8) Budget. A detailed budget is required for each year of 
requested support. In addition, a summary budget is required detailing 
requested support for the overall project period. A copy of the form 
which must be used for this purpose, along with instructions for 
completion, is included in the NRICGP Application Kit identified under 
Sec.  3411.4(b) of the part and may be reproduced as needed by 
applicants. Funds may be requested under any of the categories listed, 
provided that the item or service for which support is requested may be 
identified as necessary for successful conduct of the proposed project, 
is allowable under applicable Federal cost principles, and is not 
prohibited under any applicable Federal statute or regulation. It 
should be noted, for example, that section 2(b)(7) of the Act of August 
4, 1965, as amended, prohibits the use of funds under this program for 
the renovation or refurbishment of research spaces, purchases or 
installation of fixed equipment in such spaces, or for the planning, 
repair, rehabilitation, acquisition, or construction of a building or 
facility. Also, section 2(b)(8) of the Act of August 4, 1965, as 
amended, requires that all grants, except equipment grants authorized 
by section 2(b)(3)(D) of the same Act, awarded under this part, shall 
be used without regard to matching funds or cost sharing. Equipment 
grants may not exceed 50 percent of the cost of the equipment to be 
acquired. Equipment grant funds also may not be used for installation, 
maintenance, warranty, or insurance expenses. Indirect costs are not 
permitted on equipment grants, conference grants, or postdoctoral 
fellowships. According to the limit included in the annual program 
solicitation, a postdoctoral fellowship applicant may request and 
receive a reasonable institutional allowance.
* * * * *
    (11) Additions to project description. Each project description is 
expected by the Administrator, the members of peer review groups, and 
the relevant program staff to be complete. However, if the inclusions 
of additional information is necessary to ensure the equitable 
evaluation of the proposal (e.g., photographs which do not reproduce 
well, reprints, and other pertinent materials which are deemed to be 
unsuitable for inclusion in the text of the proposal), the number of 
copies submitted should match the number of copies of the application 
requested in the program solicitation. Each set of such materials must 
be identified with the name of the submitting organization, and the 
name(s) of the Project Director(s). Information may not be appended to 
a proposal to circumvent page limitations prescribed for the project 
description. Extraneous

[[Page 32483]]

materials will not be used during the peer review process.
* * * * *
    (13) National Environmental Policy Act. As outlined in CSREES's 
implementing regulations of the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969 (NEPA) at 7 CFR part 3407, environmental data or documentation for 
the proposed project is to be provided to CSREES in order to assist 
CSREES in carrying out its responsibilities under NEPA. These 
responsibilities include determining whether the project requires an 
Environmental Assessment or an Environmental Impact Statement or 
whether it can be excluded from this requirement on the basis of 
several categorical exclusions listed in 7 CFR p art 3407. In this 
regard, the applicant should review the categories defined for 
exclusion to ascertain whether the proposed project may fall within one 
or more of the exclusions, and should indicate if it does so on the 
National Environmental Policy Act Exclusions Form provided in the 
NRICGP Application Kit.
* * * * *
    6. Revise paragraph (a) of Sec.  3411.5 to read as follows:


Sec.  3411.5  Evaluation and disposition of applications.

    (a) Evaluation. All proposals received from eligible applicants and 
received in accordance with deadlines established in the annual program 
solicitation shall be evaluated by the Administrator through such 
officers, employees, and others as the Administrator determines are 
uniquely qualified in the areas represented by particular projects. To 
assist in equitably and objectively evaluating proposals and to obtain 
the best possible balance of viewpoints, the Administrator shall 
solicit the advice of peer scientists, ad hoc reviewers, and/or others 
who are recognized specialists in the areas covered by the applications 
received and whose general roles are defined in Sec. Sec.  3411.2(j) 
and 3411.2(k). Specific evaluations will be based upon the criteria 
established in Sec.  3411.15, unless CSREES determines that different 
criteria are necessary for the proper evaluation of proposals in one or 
more specific program areas, or for specific types of projects to be 
supported, and announces such criteria and their relative importance in 
the annual program solicitation. The overriding purpose of these 
evaluations is to provide information upon which the Administrator may 
make informed judgments in selecting proposals for ultimate support. 
Incomplete, unclear, or poorly organized applications will work to the 
detriment of applicants during the peer evaluation process. To ensure a 
comprehensive evaluation, all applications should be written with the 
care and thoroughness accorded papers for publication.
* * * * *
    7. Amend Sec.  3411.6 as follows:
    A. Revise paragraph (a), paragraph (b) heading, (b)(1)(iii), 
(b)(1)(iv), (d) introductory text, (d)(2), and (f).
    B. Remove and reserve paragraph (b)(2).


Sec.  3411.6  Grant awards.

    (a) General. Within the limit of funds available for such purpose, 
the awarding official shall make grants to those responsible, eligible 
applicants whose proposals are judged most meritorious in the announced 
program areas under the evaluation criteria and procedures set forth in 
this part. All funds granted under this part shall be expended solely 
for the purpose for which the funds are granted in accordance with the 
approved application and budget, the regulations of this part, the 
terms and conditions of the award, the applicable Federal cost 
principles, and the Department's Federal assistance regulations.
    (b) Grant award document.
    (1) * * *
    (iii) Name(s) and address(es) of Project Director(s) chosen to 
direct and control approved activities;
    (iv) Identifying grant and proposal numbers assigned by the 
Department;
* * * * *
    (d) Funding mechanisms. The two mechanisms by which grants shall be 
awarded are as follows:
* * * * *
    (2) Continuation grant. This is a funding mechanism whereby the 
Department agrees to support a specified level of effort for a 
predetermined period of time with a statement of intention to provide 
additional support at a future date, provided that performance has been 
satisfactory, appropriations are available for this purpose, and 
continued support would be in the best interests of the Federal 
government and the public. This kind of mechanism normally will be 
awarded for an initial one-year period, and any subsequent continuation 
project grants will also be awarded in one-year increments. The award 
of a continuation project grant to fund an initial or succeeding budget 
period does not constitute an obligation to fund any subsequent budget 
period. Unless prescribed otherwise by CSREES, a grantee must submit a 
separate application for continued support for each subsequent fiscal 
year. Decisions regarding continued support and the actual funding 
levels of such support in future years usually will be made 
administratively after consideration of such factors as the grantee's 
progress and management practices and the availability of funds. Since 
initial peer reviews are based upon the full term and scope of the 
original application, additional evaluations of this type generally are 
not required prior to successive years' support. However, in unusual 
cases (e.g., when the nature of the project or key personnel change or 
when the amount of future support requested substantially exceeds the 
grant application originally reviewed and approved), additional reviews 
may be required prior to approving continued funding.
* * * * *
    (f) Current Research Information Service (CRIS). For each project 
funded, instructions will be sent to the grantee for the completion of 
CRIS Forms AD-416, ``Research Work Unit/Project Description--Research 
Resume'' and AD-417, ``Research Work Unit/Project Description--
Classification of Research.'' Grant funds will not be released until 
the completed forms are received electronically via CRIS.
    8. Revise paragraph (b)(1) of Sec.  3411.7 as follows:


Sec.  3411.7  Use of funds; changes.

* * * * *
    (b) Change in project plans. (1) The permissible changes by the 
grantee, Project Director(s), or other key project personnel in the 
approved grant shall be limited to changes in methodology, techniques, 
or other aspects of the project to expedite achievement of the 
project's approved goals. If the grantee and/or the Project Director(s) 
is uncertain whether a particular change complies with this provision, 
the question must be referred to the Administrator for final 
determination.
* * * * *
    9. In the list of statutes in Sec.  3411.8, revise the fifth and 
tenth statutes listed.


Sec.  3411.8  Other Federal statutes and regulations that apply.

* * * * *
    7 CFR part 3015--USDA Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations, 
implementing OMB directives (i.e., Circular Nos. A-21 and A-122) and 
incorporating provisions of 31 U.S.C. 6301-6308 (formerly, the Federal 
Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act of 1977, Pub. L. No. 95-224), as 
well as general policy requirements applicable to

[[Page 32484]]

recipients of Departmental financial assistance;
* * * * *
    7 CFR part 3407--CSREES procedures to implement the National 
Environmental Policy Act;
* * * * *

    Dated: May 31, 2006.
Colien Hefferan,
Administrator, Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension 
Service.
[FR Doc. E6-8704 Filed 6-5-06; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-22-P