[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 37 (Thursday, February 24, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 10321-10327]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-4137]



[[Page 10321]]

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Rural Utilities Service


Announcement of Solicitation of Applications and Grant 
Application Deadlines

AGENCY: Rural Utilities Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of Solicitation of Applications.

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

SUMMARY: The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency of the United 
States Department of Agriculture (USDA), announces its Distance 
Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program application window for 
Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 subject to the availability of funding. This 
notice is being issued prior to passage of a final appropriations act 
to allow potential applicants time to submit proposals and give the 
Agency time to process applications within the current fiscal year. RUS 
will publish a subsequent notice identifying the amount received in the 
final appropriations act, if any. Expenses incurred in developing 
applications will be at the applicant's risk. For FY 2010, Congress 
appropriated approximately $30 million. In addition to announcing the 
application window, RUS announces the minimum and maximum amounts for 
DLT grants applicable for the fiscal year and a change in scoring 
necessitated by changes in the Empowerment Zone (EZ), Enterprise 
Community (EC) and Champion Community (CC) designations. Finally, the 
Agency notes that the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Pub. 
L. 110-234) expressly added the category of libraries under Sec. 2333 
(c)(1) of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (7 
U.S.C. Sec. 950aaa-2(a)(1)) in order to clearly establish that 
libraries are eligible to be recipients of DLT Loans and Grants. This 
confirms the longstanding Agency policy of considering libraries to be 
eligible entities under the DLT Program. The regulation for the DLT 
Grant Program can be found at 7 CFR part 1703, subpart E.

DATES: You may submit completed applications for grants on paper or 
electronically in accordance with the following deadlines:
     Paper submissions: Paper copies must be postmarked and 
mailed, shipped, or sent overnight no later than April 25, 2011 to be 
eligible for FY 2011 grant funding. Late or incomplete applications 
will not be eligible for FY 2011 grant funding.
     Electronic submissions: Electronic copies must be received 
by April 25, 2011 to be eligible for FY 2011 grant funding. Late or 
incomplete applications will not be eligible for FY 2011 grant funding.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the FY 2011 Application Guides and materials for 
the DLT grant program may be obtained at the following sources:
    (1) The DLT Web site: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/UTP_DLTResources.html and
    (2) You may also request application guides and materials from RUS 
by contacting the DLT Program at 202-720-0413.
    Completed applications may be submitted in the following ways:
    (1) Paper: Paper applications are to be submitted to the Rural 
Utilities Service, Telecommunications Program, 1400 Independence Ave., 
SW., Room 2845, STOP 1550, Washington, DC 20250-1550. Applications 
should be marked ``Attention: Acting Director, Advanced Services 
Division.''
    (2) Electronic: Electronic applications may be submitted through 
Grants.gov. Information on how to submit applications electronically is 
available on the Grants.gov Web site (http://www.grants.gov). 
Applicants must successfully pre-register with Grants.gov to use the 
electronic applications option. Application information may be 
downloaded from Grants.gov without preregistration.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Acting Director, Advanced Services 
Division, Telecommunications Programs, Rural Utilities Service. 
Telephone: 202-720-0413, fax: 202-720-1051.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Overview

    Federal Agency: Rural Utilities Service (RUS).
    Funding Opportunity Title: Distance Learning and Telemedicine 
Grants.
    Announcement Type: Notice of Funds Availability.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 10.855.

DATES: You may submit completed applications for grants on paper or 
electronically according to the following deadlines:
     Paper copies must be postmarked and mailed, shipped, or 
sent overnight no later than April 25, 2011 to be eligible for FY 2011 
grant funding. Late or incomplete applications are not eligible for FY 
2011 grant funding.
    Electronic copies must be received by April 25, 2011 to be eligible 
for FY 2011 grant funding. Late or incomplete applications are not 
eligible for FY 2011 grant funding.

Items in Supplementary Information

I. Funding Opportunity: Brief introduction to the DLT program.
II. Minimum and Maximum Application Amounts: Projected Available 
Funding.
III. Eligibility Information: Who is eligible, what kinds of 
projects are eligible, what criteria determine basic eligibility.
IV. Application and Submission Information: Where to get application 
materials, what constitutes a completed application, how and where 
to submit applications, deadlines, items that are eligible.
V. Application Review Information: Considerations and preferences, 
scoring criteria, review standards, selection information.
VI. Award Administration Information: Award notice information, 
award recipient reporting requirements.
VII. Agency Contacts: Web, phone, fax, e-mail, contact name.

I. Funding Opportunity

    Distance learning and telemedicine grants are specifically designed 
to provide access to education, training and health care resources for 
people in rural America.
    The Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Program provides 
financial assistance to encourage and improve telemedicine services and 
distance learning services in rural areas through the use of 
telecommunications, computer networks, and related advanced 
technologies to be used by students, teachers, medical professionals, 
and rural residents.
    The grants, which are awarded through a competitive process, may be 
used to fund telecommunications-enabled information, audio and video 
equipment and related advanced technologies which extend educational 
and medical applications into rural locations. Grants are made for 
projects where the benefit is primarily delivered to end users that are 
not at the same location as the source of the education or health care 
service.
    As in years past, the FY 2011 DLT Grant Application Guide has been 
updated based on Program experience. Details of changes from the FY 
2010 Application Guide are highlighted throughout this Notice and are 
described in full in the FY 2011 Application Guide. All applicants must 
carefully review and exactly follow the FY 2011 Application Guide and 
sample materials when compiling a DLT grant application.

II. Maximum and Minimum Amount of Applications

    Under 7 CFR 1703.124, the Administrator has determined the maximum 
amount of a grant to be made available to an application in FY 2011

[[Page 10322]]

is $500,000, and the minimum amount of a grant is $50,000.
    The Agency will make awards and execute documents appropriate to 
the project prior to any advance of funds to successful applicants.
    DLT grants cannot be renewed. Award documents specify the term of 
each award. The Agency will make awards and execute documents 
appropriate to the project prior to any advance of funds to successful 
applicants. Applications from existing DLT awardees are acceptable 
(grant applications must be submitted during the application window) 
and will be evaluated as new applications.

III. Eligibility Information

A. Who is eligible for a grant ? (See 7 CFR 1703.103.)

    1. Only entities legally organized as one of the following are 
eligible for DLT financial assistance:
    a. An incorporated organization or partnership,
    b. An Indian Tribe or Tribal organization, as defined in 25 USC 
450b (b) and (c),
    c. A State or local unit of government,
    d. A consortium, as defined in 7 CFR 1703.102, or
    e. Other legal entity, including a private corporation organized on 
a for-profit or not-for-profit basis.
    2. Individuals are not eligible for DLT program financial 
assistance directly.
    3. Electric and telecommunications borrowers under the Rural 
Electrification Act of 1936 (7 U.S.C. 950aaa et seq.) are not eligible 
for grants.

B. What are the basic eligibility requirements for a project?

    1. Required matching contributions for grants: See 7 CFR 
1703.125(g) and the FY 2011 Application Guide for information on 
required matching contributions.
    a. Grant applicants must demonstrate matching contributions, in 
cash or in kind (new, non-depreciated items), of at least fifteen (15) 
percent of the total amount of financial assistance requested. Matching 
contributions must be used for eligible purposes of DLT grant 
assistance (see 7 CFR 1703.121, paragraphs IV.H.1.b of this Notice and 
the FY 2011 Application Guide).
    b. Greater amounts of eligible matching contributions may increase 
an applicant's score (see 7 CFR 1703.126(b)(4), paragraph V.B.2.c of 
this notice, and the FY 2011 Application Guide).
    c. Applications that do not provide evidence of the required 
fifteen percent match will be declared ineligible and returned. See 
paragraphs IV.H.1.c and V.B.2.c of this Notice, and the FY 2011 
Application Guide for specific information on documentation of matching 
contributions.
    d. Applications that do not document all matching contributions in 
form and substance satisfactory to the Agency as described in the 
Application Guide are subject to budgetary adjustment by the Agency, 
which may result in rejection of an application as ineligible due to 
insufficient match.
    2. The DLT grant program is designed to bring the benefits of 
distance learning and telemedicine to residents of rural America (see 7 
CFR 1703.103(a)(2)). Therefore, in order to be eligible, applicants 
must:
    a. Operate a rural community facility; or
    b. Deliver distance learning or telemedicine services to entities 
that operate a rural community facility or to residents of rural areas, 
at rates calculated to ensure that the benefit of the financial 
assistance is passed through to such entities or to residents of rural 
areas.
    3. Rurality.
    a. All projects proposed for DLT grant assistance must meet a 
minimum rurality threshold, to ensure that benefits from the projects 
flow to rural residents. The minimum eligibility score is 20 points. 
Please see Section IV of this notice, 7 CFR 1703.126(a)(2), and the FY 
2011 Application Guide for an explanation of the rurality scoring and 
eligibility criterion.
    b. Each application must apply the following criteria to each of 
its end-user sites, and hubs that are also proposed as end-user sites, 
in order to determine a rurality score. The rurality score is the 
average of all end-user sites' rurality scores.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                          DLT
                Criterion                            Character                     Population            points
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Exceptionally Rural Area................  Area not within an Urbanized     <= 5,000..................         45
                                           Area or Urban Cluster.
Rural Area..............................  Area in an Urban Cluster.......  > 5,000 and <= 10,000.....         30
Mid-Rural Area..........................  Area in an Urban Cluster.......  >10,000 and <= 20,000.....         15
Urban Area..............................  Area in an Urbanized Area or     > 20,000..................          0
                                           Urban Cluster.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    c. The rurality score is one of the competitive scoring criteria 
applied to grant applications.
    4. Projects located in areas covered by the Coastal Barrier 
Resources Act (16 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) are not eligible for financial 
assistance from the DLT Program. Please see 7 CFR 1703.123(a)(11), 7 
CFR 1703.132(a)(5), and 7 CFR 1703.142(b)(3).

C. Where To Find Full Discussion of a Complete Application

    See Section IV of this Notice and the FY 2011 Application Guide for 
a discussion of the items that comprise a complete application. For 
requirements of completed applications you may also refer to 7 CFR 
1703.125 for grant applications. The FY 2011 Application Guide provides 
specific, detailed instructions for each item that constitutes a 
complete application. The Agency strongly emphasizes the importance of 
including every required item (as explained in the FY 2011 Application 
Guide) and strongly encourages applicants to follow the instructions 
carefully, using the examples and illustrations in the FY 2011 
Application Guide. Applications which do not include all items that 
determine project eligibility and applicant eligibility by the 
application deadline will be returned as ineligible. Scoring and 
eligibility information not provided by the application deadline will 
not be solicited or considered by the Agency. Applications that do not 
include all items necessary for scoring will be scored as is. Please 
see the FY 2011 Application Guide for a full discussion of each 
required item and for samples and illustrations.

IV. Application and Submission Information

A. Where To get Application Information

    FY 2011 Application Guides, copies of necessary forms and samples, 
and the DLT Program regulation are available from these sources:
    1. The Internet: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/UTP_DLTResources.html.

[[Page 10323]]

    2. The DLT Program for paper copies of these materials: 202-720-
0413.

 B. New and Emphasized in FY 2011

    1. The USDA designation of Enterprise Community (EC) expired on 
December 31, 2009. The Champion Community designation ended in FY 2010. 
The Empowerment Zone designation was extended through December 31, 2011 
on December 17, 2010 (See Pub. L. 111-312 at Sect. 753). As a 
consequence, points will be awarded only for sites located in USDA 
Empowerment Zones. Please refer to the FY 2011 Application Guide for 
complete details on this change.
    2. Applicants are reminded that end user sites are to be rural 
facilities. See 7 CFR 1703.102, Definitions, ``End User'' and ``End 
User Site.'' We have experienced an increase in the number of 
applications which attempt to include urban educational and medical 
facilities as end user sites. Urban facilities can serve as hub sites, 
but not end user sites. For projects with non-fixed end user sites, 
only those end user sites outside urban areas can be funded. The FY 
2011 Application Guide again contains clarifying language to elaborate 
on this provision of the regulation.
    3. If a grant application includes a site that is included in any 
other DLT grant application for FY 2011, or a site that has been 
included in any DLT grant funded in FY 2010 or FY 2009, the application 
should contain a detailed explanation of the related applications or 
grants. The Agency must make a nonduplication finding for each grant 
approved, and apparent but unexplained duplication of funding for a 
site can prevent such a finding.

C. What constitutes a completed application?

    1. For DLT Grants:
    a. Detailed information on each item in the table in paragraph 
IV.C.1.g. of this Notice can be found in the sections of the DLT 
Program regulation listed in the table, and the DLT grant Application 
Guide. Applicants are strongly encouraged to read and apply both the 
regulation and the Applications Guide, which elaborates and explains 
the regulation.
    (1). When the table refers to a narrative, it means a written 
statement, description or other written material prepared by the 
applicant, for which no form exists. The Agency recognizes that each 
project is unique and requests narratives to allow applicants to 
explain their request for financial assistance.
    (2). When documentation is requested, it means letters, 
certifications, legal documents or other third-party documentation that 
provide evidence that the applicant meets the listed requirement. For 
example, to confirm rurality scores, applicants use printouts from the 
official Census Web site. Leveraging documentation generally will be 
letters of commitment from the funding sources. In-kind matches must be 
items purchased after the application deadline date that are essential 
to the project and documentation from the donor must demonstrate the 
relationship of each item to the project's function. Evidence of legal 
existence is sometimes proven by submitting articles of incorporation. 
The examples here are not intended to limit the types of documentation 
that must be submitted to fulfill a requirement. DLT Program 
regulations and the Application Guide provide specific guidance on each 
of the items in the table.
    b. The DLT Application Guide and ancillary materials provide all 
necessary sample forms and worksheets.
    c. While the table in paragraph IV.C.1.g of this Notice includes 
all items of a completed application, the Agency may ask for additional 
or clarifying information for applications which, as submitted by the 
deadline, appear to clearly demonstrate that they meet eligibility 
requirements. The Agency will not solicit or accept eligibility or 
scoring information submitted after the application deadline.
    d. Submit the required application items in the order provided in 
the FY 2011 Application Guide. The FY 2011 Application Guide specifies 
the format and order of all required items. Applications that are not 
assembled and tabbed in the order specified prevent timely 
determination of eligibility. Given the high volume of program 
interest, incorrectly assembled applications, and applications with 
inconsistency among submitted copies, will be returned as ineligible.
    e. DUNS Number. As required by the OMB, all applicants for grants 
must supply a Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) 
number when applying. The Standard Form 424 (SF-424) contains a field 
for you to use when supplying your DUNS number. Obtaining a DUNS number 
costs nothing and requires a short telephone call to Dun and 
Bradstreet. Please see http://www.grants.gov/applicants/request_duns_number.jsp for more information on how to obtain a DUNS number or how 
to verify your organization's number.
    f. Central Contractor Registration (CCR).
    (a) In accordance with 2 CFR part 25, applicants, whether applying 
electronically or by paper, must be registered in the CCR prior to 
submitting an application. Applicants may register for the CCR at 
https://www.uscontractorregistration.com/ or by calling 1-877-252-2700. 
Completing the CCR registration process takes up to five business days, 
and applicants are strongly encouraged to begin the process well in 
advance of the deadline specified in this notice.
    (b) The CCR registration must remain active, with current 
information, at all times during which an entity has an application 
under consideration by an agency or has an active Federal Award. To 
remain registered in the CCR database after the initial registration, 
the applicant is required to review and update, on an annual basis from 
the date of initial registration or subsequent updates, its information 
in the CCR database to ensure it is current, accurate and complete.
    g. Compliance with other Federal statutes. The applicant must 
provide evidence of compliance with other Federal statutes and 
regulations, including, but not limited to the following:
    (i) 7 CFR part 15, subpart A--Nondiscrimination in Federally 
Assisted Programs of the Department of Agriculture--Effectuation of 
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
    (ii) 7 CFR part 3015--Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations.
    (iii) 7 CFR part 3017--Government-wide Debarment and Suspension 
(Non-procurement).
    (iv) 7 CFR part 3018--New Restrictions on Lobbying.
    (v) 7 CFR part 3021--Government-wide Requirements for Drug-Free 
Workplace.
    h. Table of Required Elements of a Completed Grant Application.

[[Page 10324]]



------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Required items
                               -----------------------------------------
       Application item           Grants (7 CFR
                                  1703.125 and 7          Comment
                                  CFR 1703.126)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
SF-424 (Application for         Yes..............  Completely filled out
 Federal Assistance form).
Site Worksheet................  Yes..............  Agency worksheet
Survey on Ensuring Equal        Optional.........  OMB Form
 Opportunity for Applicants.
Evidence of Legal Authority to  Yes..............  Documentation
 Contract with the Government.
Evidence of Legal Existence...  Yes..............  Documentation
Executive Summary.............  Yes..............  Narrative
Telecommunications System Plan  Yes..............  Narrative &
 and Scope of Work.                                 documentation such
                                                    as maps and diagrams
Budget........................  Yes..............  Agency Worksheets
                                                    with documentation
Financial Information/          Yes..............  Narrative
 Sustainability.
Statement of Experience.......  Yes..............  Narrative 3-page,
                                                    single-spaced limit
Rurality Worksheet............  Yes..............  Agency worksheet with
                                                    documentation
National School Lunch Program   Yes..............  Agency worksheet with
 (NSLP) Worksheet.                                  documentation
Leveraging Evidence and         Yes..............  Agency worksheet and
 Funding Commitments from all                       source documentation
 Sources.
Empowerment Zone designation..  Yes..............  Documentation
Request for Additional NSLP...  Optional.........  Agency Worksheet and
                                                    narrative
Need for and Benefits derived   Yes..............  Narrative &
 from Project.                                      documentation
Innovativeness of the Project.  Yes..............  Narrative &
                                                    documentation
Cost Effectiveness of Project.  Yes..............  Narrative &
                                                    documentation
Consultation with the USDA      Yes..............  Documentation
 State Director, Rural
 Development, and evidence
 that application conforms to
 State Strategic Plan, if any.
Certifications:
Equal Opportunity and           Yes..............  Recommend using
 Nondiscrimination.                                 Agency's sample form
Architectural Barriers........  Yes..............  Recommend using
                                                    Agency's sample form
Flood Hazard Area Precautions.  Yes..............  Recommend using
                                                    Agency's sample form
Uniform Relocation Assistance   Yes..............  Recommend using
 and Real Property Acquisition                      Agency's sample form
 Policies Act of 1970.
Drug-Free Workplace...........  Yes..............  Recommend using
                                                    Agency's sample form
Debarment, Suspension, and      Yes..............  Recommend using
 Other Responsibility Matters--                     Agency's sample form
 Primary Covered Transactions.
Lobbying for Contracts,         Yes..............  Recommend using
 Grants, Loans, and                                 Agency's sample form
 Cooperative Agreements.
Non-Duplication of Services...  Yes..............  Recommend using
                                                    Agency's sample form
Environmental Impact/Historic   Yes..............  Recommend using
 Preservation Certification.                        Agency's sample form
------------------------------------------------------------------------

D. How many copies of an application are required?

    1. Applications submitted on paper.
    a. Submit the original application and two (2) copies to RUS.
    b. Submit one (1) additional copy to the State government single 
point of contact (SPOC) (if one has been designated) at the same time 
as you submit the application to the Agency. See http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants/spoc.html for an updated listing of State 
government single points of contact.
    2. Electronically submitted applications. Grant applications may be 
submitted electronically. Please carefully read the FY 2011 Application 
Guide for guidance on submitting an electronic application. In 
particular, we ask that you identify and number each page in the same 
way you would a paper application so that we can assemble them as you 
intended.
    a. The additional paper copies are not necessary if you submit the 
application electronically through Grants.gov.
    b. Submit one (1) copy to the State government single point of 
contact (if one has been designated) at the same time as you submit the 
application to the Agency. See http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants/spoc.html for an updated listing of State government single points of 
contact.

E. How and Where To Submit an Application

    Grant applications may be submitted on paper or electronically.
    1. Submitting applications on paper.
    a. Address paper applications to the Telecommunications Program, 
RUS, United States Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave., 
SW., Room 2845, STOP 1550, Washington, DC 20250-1550. Applications 
should be marked ``Attention: Acting Director, Advanced Services 
Division.''
    b. Paper grant applications must show proof of mailing or shipping 
by the deadline consisting of one of the following:
    (i) A legibly dated U.S. Postal Service (USPS) postmark;
    (ii) A legible mail receipt with the date of mailing stamped by the 
USPS; or
    (iii) A dated shipping label, invoice, or receipt from a commercial 
carrier.
    c. Due to screening procedures at the Department of Agriculture, 
packages arriving via regular mail through the USPS are irradiated, 
which can damage the contents and delay delivery to the DLT Program. 
RUS encourages applicants to consider the impact of this procedure in 
selecting their application delivery method.
    2. Electronically submitted applications.
    a. Applications will not be accepted via fax or electronic mail.
    b. Electronic applications for grants will be accepted if submitted 
through the Federal government's Grants.gov initiative at http://www.grants.gov.
    c. How to use Grants.gov.
    (i) Grants.gov contains full instructions on all required 
passwords, credentialing and software.
    (ii) Central Contractor Registry. Submitting an application through 
Grants.gov requires that you list your organization in the Central 
Contractor Registry (CCR). Setting up a CCR listing takes up to five 
business days, so the

[[Page 10325]]

Agency strongly recommends that you obtain your organization's DUNS 
number and CCR listing well in advance of the deadline specified in 
this notice.
    (iii) Credentialing and authorization of applicants. Grants.gov 
will also require some credentialing and online authentication 
procedures. These procedures may take several business days to 
complete, further emphasizing the need for early action by applicants 
to complete the sign-up, credentialing and authorization procedures at 
Grants.gov before you submit an application at that Web site.
    (iv) Some or all of the CCR and Grants.gov registration, 
credentialing and authorizations require updates. If you have 
previously registered at Grants.gov to submit applications 
electronically, please ensure that your registration, credentialing and 
authorizations are up to date well in advance of the grant application 
deadline.
    d. RUS encourages applicants who wish to apply through Grants.gov 
to submit their applications in advance of the deadlines.
    e. If a system problem occurs or you have technical difficulties 
with an electronic application, please use the customer support 
resources available at the Grants.gov Web site.

F. Deadlines

    1. Paper grant applications must be postmarked and mailed, shipped, 
or sent overnight no later than April 25, 2011 to be eligible for FY 
2011 grant funding. Late applications, applications which do not 
include proof of mailing or shipping as described in paragraph 
IV.E.1.b., and incomplete applications are not eligible for FY 2011 
grant funding.
    2. Electronic grant applications must be received by April 25, 2011 
to be eligible for FY 2011 funding. Late or incomplete applications 
will not be eligible for FY 2011 grant funding.

G. Intergovernmental Review

    The DLT grant program is subject to Executive Order 12372, 
``Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs.'' As stated in 
paragraph IV.D.1. of this Notice, a copy of a DLT grant application 
must be submitted to the State single point of contact if one has been 
designated. Please see http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants/spoc.html 
to determine whether your State has a single point of contact.

H. Funding Restrictions

    1. Eligible purposes.
    a. For grants, rural end-user sites may receive financial 
assistance; hub sites (rural or non-rural) may also receive financial 
assistance if they are necessary to provide DLT services to end-user 
sites. Please see the Application Guide and 7 CFR 1703.101(h).
    b. To fulfill the policy goals laid out for the DLT Program in 7 
CFR 1703.101, the following table lists purposes for financial 
assistance and whether each purpose is generally considered to be 
eligible for the form of financial assistance. Please consult the FY 
2011 Application Guide and the regulations (7 CFR 1703.102 for 
definitions, in combination with the portions of the regulation cited 
in the table) for detailed requirements for the items in the table. RUS 
strongly recommends that applicants exclude ineligible items from the 
grant and match portions of grant application budgets. However, some 
items ineligible for funding or matching contributions may be vital to 
the project. RUS encourages applicants to document those costs in the 
application's budget. Please see the FY 2011 Application Guide for a 
recommended budget format, and detailed budget compilation 
instructions.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                         Grants
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lease or purchase of new eligible DLT          Yes, equipment only.
 equipment and facilities.
Acquire new instructional programming that is  Yes.
 capital asset.
Technical assistance, develop instructional    Yes, up to 10% of the
 programming that is a capital asset,           grant.
 engineering or environmental studies.
Telemedicine or distance learning equipment    Yes.
 or facilities necessary to the project.
Vehicles using distance learning or            No.
 telemedicine technology to deliver services.
Teacher-student links located at the same      No.
 facility.
Links between medical professionals located    No.
 at the same facility.
Site development or building alteration......  No.
Land of building purchase....................  No.
Building Construction........................  No.
Acquiring telecommunications transmission      No.
 facilities.
Internet services, telecommunications          No.
 services or other forms of connectivity.
Salaries, wages, benefits for medical or       No.
 educational personnel.
Salaries or administrative expenses of         No.
 applicant or project.
Recurring project costs or operating expenses  No, (equipment & facility
                                                leases are not recurring
                                                project costs).
Internet services, telecom services, and       No.
 other forms of connectivity.
Equipment to be owned by the LEC or other      No.
 telecommunications service provider, if the
 provider is the applicant.
Duplicative distance learning or telemedicine  No.
 services.
Any project that for its success depends on    No.
 additional DLT financial assistance or other
 financial assistance that is not assured.
Application Preparation Costs................  No.
Other project costs not in regulation........  No.
Cost (amount) of facilities providing          No.
 distance learning broadcasting.
Reimburse applicants or others for costs       No.
 incurred prior to RUS receipt of completed
 application.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    c. Discounts. The DLT Program regulation has long stated that 
manufacturers' and service providers' discounts are not eligible 
matches. The Agency will not consider as eligible any proposed match 
from a vendor, manufacturer, or service provider whose products or 
services will be used in the DLT project as described in the 
application. In recent years, the Agency has noted a trend of vendors, 
manufacturers and other service providers offering their own products 
and services as in-kind matches for a project when their products or 
services

[[Page 10326]]

will also be purchased with either grant or cash match funds for that 
project. Such activity is a discount and is therefore not an eligible 
match. Similarly, if a vendor, manufacturer or other service provider 
proposes a cash match (or any in-kind match) when their products or 
services will be purchased with grant or match funds, such activity is 
a discount and is not an eligible match. The Agency actively 
discourages such matching proposals and will adjust budgets as 
necessary to remove any such matches, which may reduce an application's 
score or result in the application's ineligibility due to insufficient 
match.
    2. Eligible Equipment & Facilities. Please see the FY 2011 
Application Guide which supplies a wealth of information and examples 
of eligible and ineligible items. In addition, see 7 CFR 1703.102 for 
definitions of eligible equipment, eligible facilities and 
telecommunications transmission facilities as used in the table above.
    3. Apportioning budget items. Many DLT applications propose to use 
items for a blend of specific DLT eligible project purposes and other 
purposes. RUS will now fund such items, if the applicants attribute the 
proportion (by percentage of use) of the costs of each item to the 
project's DLT purpose or to other purposes to enable consideration for 
a grant of the portion of the item that is for DLT usage. See the FY 
2011 Application Guide for detailed information on how to apportion use 
and apportioning illustrations.

V. Application Review Information

A. Special Considerations or Preferences

    1. American Samoa, Guam, Virgin Islands, and Northern Mariana 
Islands applications are exempt from the matching requirement up to a 
match amount of $200,000 (see 48 U.S.C. 1469a; 91 Stat. 1164).
    2. 7 CFR 1703.112 directs that RUS Telecommunications Borrowers 
receive expedited consideration of a loan application or advance under 
the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 (7 U.S.C. 901-950aa, et. seq.) if 
the loan funds in question are to be used in conjunction with a DLT 
grant (See 7 CFR 1737 for loans and 7 CFR 1744 for advances).

B. Criteria

    1. Grant application scoring criteria (total possible points: 215). 
See 7 CFR 1703.125 for the items that will be reviewed during scoring, 
and 7 CFR 1703.126 for scoring criteria.
    2. Grant applications are scored competitively subject to the 
criteria listed below.
    a. Rurality category--Rurality of the proposed service area (up to 
45 points).
    b. NSLP category--percentage of students eligible for the NSLP in 
the proposed service area (objectively demonstrates economic need of 
the area) (up to 35 points).
    c. Leveraging category--matching funds above the required matching 
level (up to 35 points). Please see paragraph III.B of this Notice for 
a brief explanation of matching contributions.
    d. EZ category--project overlap with Empowerment Zones (EZ) current 
as of the application deadline (up to 10 points), April 25, 2011. In 
the past, an applicant could earn up to 15 points in this category; 10 
points for one or more sites located in either an EZ or Enterprise 
Community and 5 points for one or more sites located in a Champion 
Community. The USDA designation of Enterprise Community expired in 
2009. The Champion Community designation expired in 2010. The 
Empowerment Zone designation was extended through December 31, 2011 on 
December 17, 2010. As a consequence, points will be awarded in this 
category only for sites located in an Empowerment Zone. Other USDA 
designations such as REAP zones are not eligible for points in this 
category. Please refer to the FY 2011 Application Guide for complete 
details on this change.
    e. Need for services proposed in the application, and the benefits 
that will be derived if the application receives a grant (up to 55 
points).
    (i) Additional NSLP category--up to 10 of the possible 55 possible 
points are to recognize economic need not reflected in the project's 
National School Lunch Program (NSLP) score, and can be earned only by 
applications whose overall NSLP eligibility is less than 50%. To be 
eligible to receive points under this, the application must include an 
affirmative request for consideration of the possible 10 points, and 
compelling documentation of reasons why the NSLP eligibility percentage 
does not represent the economic need of the proposed project 
beneficiaries.
    (ii) Needs and Benefits category--up to 45 of the 55 possible 
points under this criterion are available to all applicants. Points are 
awarded based on the required narrative crafted by the applicant. RUS 
encourages applicants to carefully read the cited portions of the 
Program regulation and the FY 2011 Application Guide for full 
discussions of this criterion.
    f. Innovativeness category--level of innovation demonstrated by the 
project (up to 15 points).
    g. Cost Effectiveness category--system cost-effectiveness (up to 35 
points). As a clear indication of cost-effectiveness, the agency will 
give significant weight to cooperation and coordination with any of the 
Beacon Communities, which were established under the Beacon Community 
Collaborative Program by the Office of the National Coordinator to 
improve clinical outcomes, population health, and reduce health costs 
nationwide. Information on the Beacon Communities is available from 
http://www.beaconcommunityprogram.com.

C. Grant Review Standards

    1. In addition to the scoring criteria that rank applications 
against each other, the Agency evaluates grant applications for 
possible awards on the following items, according to 7 CFR 1703.127:
    a. Financial feasibility.
    b. Technical considerations. If the application contains flaws that 
would prevent the successful implementation, operation or 
sustainability of a project, the Agency will not award a grant.
    c. Other aspects of proposals that contain inadequacies that would 
undermine the ability of the project to comply with the policies of the 
DLT Program.
    2. Applications which do not include all items that determine 
project eligibility and applicant eligibility by the application 
deadline will be returned as ineligible. Applications that do not 
include all items necessary for scoring will be scored as is. Please 
see the FY 2011 Application Guide for a full discussion of each 
required item and for samples and illustrations. The Agency will not 
solicit or consider eligibility or scoring information submitted after 
the application deadline.
    3. The FY 2011 grant Application Guide specifies the format and 
order of all required items. Applications that are not assembled and 
tabbed in the order specified and incorrectly assembled applications 
will be returned as ineligible.
    4. Most DLT grant projects contain numerous project sites. The 
Agency requires that site information be consistent throughout an 
application. Sites must be referred to by the same designation 
throughout all parts of an application. The Agency has provided a site 
worksheet that requests the necessary information, and can be used as a 
guide by applicants. RUS strongly recommends that applicants complete 
the site worksheet, listing all requested information for each site. 
Applications without consistent site information will be returned as 
ineligible.

[[Page 10327]]

    5. DLT grant applications which have non-fixed end-user sites, such 
as ambulance and home health care services, are now scored using a 
simplified scoring method that finds the relative rurality of the 
applicant's entire service area. See the FY 2011 Application Guide for 
specific guidance on this method of scoring. When an application 
contains non-fixed sites, it must be scored using the non-fixed site 
scoring method.

D. Selection Process

    1. Grants. Applications are ranked by final score, and by 
application purpose (education or medical). RUS selects applications 
based on those rankings, subject to the availability of funds. RUS may 
allocate grant awards between medical and educational purposes, but is 
not required to do so. In addition, the Agency has the authority to 
limit the number of applications selected in any one State, or for one 
project, during a fiscal year. See 7 CFR 1703.127.

VI. Award Administration Information

A. Award Notices

    RUS generally notifies by mail applicants whose projects are 
selected for awards. The Agency follows the award letter with an 
agreement that contains all the terms and conditions for the grant. A 
copy of the standard agreement is posted on the RUS Web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/UTP_DLTResources.html. The agreement will be 
updated for FY 2011 grants to incorporate new regulatory requirements 
for grant agreements pertaining to Central Contractor Registration and 
DUNS numbers (2 CFR Subtitle A, chapter 1, and part 25, Financial 
Assistance Use of Universal Identifier and Central Contractor 
Registration) and subawards and executive compensation (2 CFR part 170 
RIN 0348-AB61, Requirements for Federal Funding Accountability and 
Transparency Act Implementation). An applicant must execute and return 
the agreement, accompanied by any additional items required by the 
agreement, within the number of days shown in the selection notice 
letter.

B. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

    The items listed in Section IV of this notice, and the DLT Program 
regulation, FY 2011 Application Guide and accompanying materials 
implement the appropriate administrative and national policy 
requirements.

 C. Reporting

    1. Performance reporting. All recipients of DLT financial 
assistance must provide annual performance activity reports to RUS 
until the project is complete and the funds are expended. A final 
performance report is also required; the final report may serve as the 
last annual report. The final report must include an evaluation of the 
success of the project in meeting DLT Program objectives. See 7 CFR 
1703.107.
    2. Financial reporting. All recipients of DLT financial assistance 
must provide an annual audit, beginning with the first year in which a 
portion of the financial assistance is expended. Audits are governed by 
United States Department of Agriculture audit regulations. Please see 7 
CFR 1703.108.
    3. Recipient and Subrecipient Reporting.
    The applicant must have the necessary processes and systems in 
place to comply with the reporting requirements for first-tier sub-
awards and executive compensation under the Federal Funding 
Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 in the event the applicant 
receives funding unless such applicant is exempt from such reporting 
requirements pursuant to 2 CFR part 170, Sec.  170.110(b). The 
reporting requirements under the Transparency Act pursuant to 2 CFR 
part 170 are as follows:
    a. First Tier Sub-Awards of $25,000 or more in non-Recovery Act 
funds (unless they are exempt under 2 CFR part 170) must be reported by 
the Recipient to http://www.fsrs.gov no later than the end of the month 
following the month the obligation was made.
    b. The Total Compensation of the Recipient's Executives (5 most 
highly compensated executives) must be reported by the Recipient (if 
the Recipient meets the criteria under 2 CFR part 170) to http://www.ccr.gov by the end of the month following the month in which the 
award was made.
    c. The Total Compensation of the Subrecipient's Executives (5 most 
highly compensated executives) must be reported by the Subrecipient (if 
the Subrecipient meets the criteria under 2 CFR part 170) to the 
Recipient by the end of the month following the month in which the 
subaward was made.
    4. Record Keeping and Accounting. The grant contract will contain 
provisions relating to record keeping and accounting requirements.

VII. Agency Contacts

    A. Web site: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/UTP_DLT.html. The DLT Web 
site maintains up-to-date resources and contact information for DLT 
programs.
    B. Telephone: 202-720-0423.
    C. Fax: 202-720-1051.
    D. E-mail: dltinfo@wdc.usda.gov.
    E. Main point of contact: Acting Director, Advanced Services 
Division, Telecommunications Program, Rural Utilities Service.

    Dated: February 15, 2011.
Jonathan Adelstein,
Administrator, Rural Utilities Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-4137 Filed 2-23-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-15-P