[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 105 (Thursday, May 31, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 32174-32178]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-13220]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Transit Administration


Innovative Transit Workforce Development Program

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of funding availability (NOFA) for innovative workforce 
development program.

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SUMMARY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is publishing a 
Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the Innovative Workforce 
Development Program. This NOFA seeks proposals that promote diverse and 
innovative successful workforce development models and programs. FTA 
has budgeted approximately $5,000,000 for providing support of these 
efforts.

DATES: Complete proposals must be submitted to http://www.grants.gov no 
later than 11:59 p.m. EDT, July 6, 2012.

ADDRESSES: All proposals must be submitted electronically via http://www.grants.gov. Prospective applicants are advised to initiate the 
process by registering on this site immediately to ensure the 
completion of the application process prior to the submission deadline.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Betty Jackson, FTA Office of Research 
and Innovation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590. 
Phone: (202) 366-1730. Email: Betty.Jackson@dot.gov. TDD service is 
available via 1-800-877-8339 (TDD/FIRS).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Table of Contents

I. Background and Objectives
II. Award Information
    a. Award Amount
    b. Period of Performance
III. Eligibility Information
    a. Eligible Applicants Defined
    b. Strategic Partnerships
    c. Cost Sharing
    d. Other Eligibility Requirements
IV. Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions
V. Project Selection Criteria
VI. Award Administration Information
VII. Additional Information

I. Background and Objectives

    FTA's workforce development activities are authorized by 49 U.S.C. 
5322, Human Resource Programs. The Innovative Transit Workforce 
Development Program is intended to exercise this authority by providing 
funding to transit agencies and other entities with innovative 
solutions to pressing workforce development issues.
    Supporting a highly-skilled transit workforce is critical to 
maintaining a competitive and efficient public transportation system. 
As public transportation enjoys a resurgence in the United States and 
investments continue in the physical capital of the nation's transit 
systems, it is essential to build and maintain human capital as well.

Type of Workforce Development Activity

    FTA will accept applications that target one or more the following 
areas in the lifecycle of the transit workforce:
    (1) Pre-employment training/preparation
    (2) Recruitment and hiring
    (3) Incumbent worker training and retention
    (4) Succession planning/phased retirement

Project Focus

    All workforce development activities that focus on these activity 
areas in the lifecycle of the transit workforce are eligible.
    FTA is soliciting applications which cover a wide range of 
workforce activities--however, the following areas are of particular 
interest and focus:
    (a) Projects or programs that demonstrate innovative methods of 
leveraging investments in public transportation infrastructure to 
generate positive impacts in local employment, particularly in 
underserved communities.
    (b) Innovative projects or programs that support the training/
professional development needs of blue-collar operations and 
maintenance workers, particularly in the area of new and emerging 
technologies.
    (c) Projects that support or showcase innovative methods of 
encouraging youth to pursue careers in public transportation.
    Competitive proposals will support products and approaches that 
improve the state of the practice in workforce development.
    Funding can be used for new workforce ideas and programs or to 
augment an existing workforce effort. While either type of effort will 
be considered, programs or approaches with an existing track record of 
success are likely to receive significant consideration.
    Proposals must describe the final project deliverable(s) and how 
they will improve the state of the practice. Final products and project 
deliverables will be made available at no cost to FTA and other parties 
at the project's close.

II. Award Information

A. Award Amount

    FTA has budgeted approximately $5,000,000 for the program in its 
second iteration of the program. Future funding will depend on 
Congressional appropriation. Proposals must have a minimum threshold of 
$100,000 and a maximum of $1,000,000. FTA reserves the right to change 
this amount based on the quantity and quality of applications submitted 
under this Request for applications (RFA). FTA may choose to fund 
programs for less than the proposed amount. Applicants are encouraged 
to submit proposals for projects at the appropriate funding level for 
the project, recognizing that FTA's contributions will be limited 
according to the funding range specified above.

B. Period of Performance

    The period of performance will be up to 18 months from the date of 
execution of the grant documents. This performance period includes all

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necessary implementation and start-up activities, execution of the 
program, and completion of final deliverables as specified in the 
applicant's Scope of Work.
    The Department intends that all recipients implement the programs 
awarded as soon as possible. Applicants should plan to fully expend 
grant funds during the period of performance, recognizing that full 
transparency and accountability are required for all expenditures.
     FTA anticipates awarding proposals for projects that will 
be completed within 12 to 18 months of receipt of the funding award.
     Applicants may choose to submit more than one proposal. 
However, each proposal must support a new idea or program and not be 
duplicative. A volume of proposals from a single entity or a consortium 
will not increase that entity's chances of being awarded a grant.
     FTA may choose to fund only a part of a proposed project 
or none at all.
     FTA will also consider projects of longer duration, 
provided that the work activities and product delivery is phased in 
such a way as to produce a viable product during the period of 
performance specified in this RFA.
     Upon award, FTA may withdraw its obligation to provide 
Federal assistance if the recipient does not submit the formal 
application (to be completed after selection) within 90 days following 
the date of the offer.
    Deadlines: Applications must be submitted through GRANTS.GOV 
(http://www.grants.gov/) by July 6, 2012. FTA suggests that applicants 
commence the application process well ahead of the application deadline 
in case of technical difficulty or other extenuating circumstances. 
Late applications will not be accepted.

III. Eligibility Information

A. Eligible Applicants Defined

    Eligible applicants are public transit agencies; state departments 
of transportation (DOTs) providing public transportation services; and 
Indian tribes, non-profit institutions and institutions of higher 
education. Only these types of organizations are eligible to apply to 
this program.
    The cooperative agreement will be between FTA and the selected 
organization, which must have a substantial involvement in the project 
and must not simply act as a pass-through for funds.
    Applicants may apply individually or in a consortium of eligible 
applicants. The consortium of eligible applicants must designate a lead 
applicant as the primary recipient of federal funds.
    Individuals, private for-profit entities, and Federal agencies are 
not eligible to apply to this program. However, personnel in private 
for-profit entities may participate as a non-compensated partner or 
through sub-contracts with the awardees.

B. Strategic Partnerships

    To be eligible for funding under this NOFA, applicants must 
demonstrate that the proposed project is supported by both the primary 
applicant and at least one or more external partner(s). The permitted 
external partners may differ based on the type of lead applicant, as 
noted below.
a. Lead Applicant Is: Nonprofit or Institution of Higher Education
    If a non-profit organization or an institution of higher education 
is the lead applicant, then it must partner with a transit agency or 
consortium of transit agencies, a state department of transportation 
(State DOT) providing public transportation services, or an Indian 
tribe providing transportation services. A particular transit agency or 
other entity providing public transportation services may be a 
strategic partner for more than one applicant. However, any 
participation as a strategic partner must be substantial and include 
significant project involvement.
    Applicants should include a letter of confirmed support from each 
potential partner as part of their application.
b. Lead Applicant Is: Public Transit Agency; State Departments of 
Transportation (State DOT)s Providing Public Transportation Services; 
or Indian Tribe
    If a transit agency or other entity providing public transportation 
services is the lead applicant, then they must partner with an external 
strategic partner. Strategic partnerships should be clearly defined and 
limited to partner entities with a substantial interest and involvement 
in the project.
    An external partner entity may be defined as, but not limited to:
    1. Educational institutions, which includes entities providing 
professional accreditation, degree, and/or certification programs, such 
as universities, community colleges, or trade schools, either non-
profit or for-profit.
    2. Public workforce investment systems, such as local Workforce 
Investment Boards and their one-stop systems.
    3. Labor organizations, such as labor unions and labor management 
organizations.
    4. Non-profit organizations that support the mission of transit and 
transportation workforce development.

C. Cost Sharing

    Cost sharing or local matching funds are not required as a 
condition for application, but leveraged resources are strongly 
encouraged and may affect an applicant's final score.

D. Other Eligibility Requirements

i. Allowable Activities
    Projects must provide direct support to workforce development 
projects. Capital expenses such as equipment purchases are not 
considered to be eligible costs unless they directly relate to the 
workforce development program being supported by FTA funds. Acceptable 
costs can include, but are not limited to: Faculty/instructors, 
including salaries and fringe benefits, support staff, classroom space, 
books, materials and supplies, transportation stipends for students.
ii. Unallowable Costs
    FTA funds under this program are not intended as an offset to 
regular transit agency employee salaries and may not be used to cover 
the regular or overtime salaries of employees at transit agencies 
offering training. Funds may be used to cover the costs of staff 
directly engaged in a program management or training role at an agency.

IV. Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions

    Potential applicants are advised to familiarize themselves with the 
application process on http://www.grants.gov well before the submission 
deadline. Eligible entities must have or must secure a DUNS number for 
the purposes of formal application and potential entry into a 
cooperative agreement with FTA. The DUNS number is a unique nine-
character number that identifies your organization. It is a tool of the 
federal government to track how federal money is distributed. Each FTA 
applicant's DUNS number will be maintained as part of the applicant's 
profile. This number can be obtained free through the D&B Web site 
(http://www.dnb.com/US/duns_update/).
    In addition, each entity that applies and does not have an 
exemption under 2 CFR 25.110 should:
    (1) Be registered in the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) 
prior to submitting an application or plan (http://www.ccr.gov), and

[[Page 32176]]

    (2) Maintain an active CCR registration with current information at 
all times during which it has an active Federal award or an application 
or plan under consideration by an agency;

The applicant should submit a project narrative statement describing 
the project objectives, proposed work tasks, outputs, and benefits of 
the proposed project for which Federal assistance is being requested.
    If the project is a proposal seeking support for an existing 
program, it should describe the proposed FTA-supported project within 
the context of the larger effort.
    The narrative should also indicate whether matching funds would be 
provided, the expected duration of the project, and other information 
that would assist FTA to understand and evaluate the project. Each 
submission for a project narrative statement should not exceed 12 pages 
(single-spaced, single-sided, 12 point font on 8.5 x 11 inch paper) and 
must include the information listed below:
    a. Project Title, Objective(s), and Contact Person. At the top of 
the document, state the title of the project and provide 2-3 sentences 
describing the intended project goals and outcomes. List the contact 
person for this application along with his or her address, title, phone 
number, fax number, and email address.
    b. Statement of the Problem(s). Provide a description of the new or 
existing program to be supported by the proposed project. Characterize 
the workforce issue or problem present in the public transportation 
industry that the project directly addresses. Describe how the project 
will specifically address the issue for the applying organization. 
Explain why the specified approach is being taken as opposed to others, 
and how its innovative aspects have potential for nationwide 
application. In addition to innovative workforce practices, cite the 
unique features of the project, such as design or technological 
innovations, reductions in cost or time, environmental benefits, 
benefits to riders, or social and community involvement. Finally, 
identify uncertainties and external factors that could affect the 
schedule, cost, or success of the program. Supporting documentation may 
be provided as an attachment that will not count toward the total page 
limit. Such information will be considered supplementary and will not 
necessarily be considered by FTA in the project selection process.
    c. Geographic Location, Target Groups, and Emphasis Areas. Give a 
precise location of the project and identify the area(s), and target 
group(s) to be directly served by the proposed effort. Maps or other 
graphic aids may be attached as needed.
    d. Strategic Partners. Provide a list of the strategic partner(s) 
that will be participating in the project, as well as a description of 
each organization, the unique skill sets and capacity they will bring 
to the project, as well as the activities they will carry out.
    e. Scope. Outline a plan of action, organized by work task, 
pertaining to the scope and detail of how the proposed work will be 
accomplished. List estimated milestone dates for major activities and 
products.
    Activities should be justified in terms of eligible program 
activities and proposals should clearly demonstrate the connection 
between the planned work and at least one of the specific program 
activities cited.
    The scope should also address supporting activities, such as 
marketing plans for engaging participants and/or dissemination 
strategies for sharing the results, if such are critical to the success 
of the supported program.
    The applicant must plan to produce at least one final deliverable 
that will become available to FTA at the end of the project for 
dissemination and sharing throughout the industry at no cost. 
Acceptable final products include, but are not limited to, class 
materials, Web sites or software, recruitment materials, flyers, 
brochures and reports. This product is in addition to the performance 
measurement reporting requirements described below in paragraph g.
    If a phased plan is being proposed, describe the context and 
additional phases on a separate page or separate pages.
    e. Period of Performance. Provide a schedule for completion of 
tasks assuming a total period of performance of 12-18 months. If a 
proposal specifies work that will exceed 18 months from award to 
delivery of outputs, the proposal must segment the work into phases and 
identify discrete deliverables that will be completed during the period 
of performance of this program. If a phased plan is being proposed, 
describe schedule for additional phases on a separate page or separate 
pages (not counted toward the page maximum).
    f. Cost/Budget Proposal. Provide a cost proposal indicating 
staffing levels, hours, and direct costs for the total project and 
amount of funding requested from FTA. As appropriate, the cost proposal 
should also show the nature and value of in-kind resources that team 
members will contribute. The proposal should also describe the source, 
purpose and amount of matching funds that will be used to make up any 
monetary difference between FTA's contribution and the total project 
cost.
    If a project or program is scalable or can be phased, that should 
be indicated within the budget. As funding for the Innovative Workforce 
Development Program is limited, an application that can be scaled may 
receive additional consideration for funding.
    g. Performance Measurement. Provide an approach for demonstrating 
the local and/or nationwide impact of the pilot project on the transit 
industry. The proposal should include a description of the applicant's 
plan for recording the outcomes and reporting at the minimum the 
following to FTA at the end of the project:
     The number of individuals affected by the project. 
Applicants should define ``affected individuals'' in terms that make 
sense for the proposed project.
    [cir] For example, other common reported outcomes include:
    [ssquf] Number of eligible individuals entered into program
    [ssquf] Number of successful completers (completed training 
program, achieved applicable credential, etc.)
    [ssquf] Number of placed new workers and/or advanced incumbent 
workers
    [ssquf] Number of retained workers after 90 days
     The costs of the project and the share of federal 
investment;
     At least one measure of quality; Quantitative metrics are 
preferred, but qualitative metrics will be considered provided they are 
based on the experiences of those affected by the program (as opposed 
to the self-assessment of the applicant or partner agencies). Metrics 
could include, but are not limited to, survey results; exit interviews; 
longitudinal tracking of staff (during the period of performance only);
     A 1-2 page project description that will state the pilot 
project's initial goals and achievements against those goals. This 
statement can also include ``lessons learned.''
     A 1-2 page statement of applicability to other entities. 
Once the program is complete, the applicant will be asked to describe 
how the pilot project could be scaled and/or altered for application 
elsewhere, and what types of benefits could be realized by doing so.
     Any other performance measure that the applicant thinks 
would describe the strengths and weaknesses of the project.

As part of the proposal, provide projections (for quantitative 
measures)

[[Page 32177]]

or short hypotheses (for qualitative measures) of what type of impact/
performance FTA could expect from the project.
    h. Project Management. Describe the applicant's approach for 
managing and staffing the project, including the distribution of 
responsibilities among partner entities and an organizational chart, if 
applicable. Include responsibilities such as regular reporting, 
performance measurement, and technical/management interactions with 
FTA. Quarterly cost and activity progress reporting will be required 
using a template provided by FTA.
    i. Project Staff. List each organization, operator, consultant, or 
other key individuals who will work on the project, along with short 
descriptions of their appropriate technical expertise and experience 
(such as past, relevant research). Attach resumes or curriculum vitae 
if available. Project staff resumes or curriculum vitae will not count 
towards the total page count for proposal submissions.

V. Project Selection Criteria

    In addition to other FTA staff that may review the proposals, a 
technical evaluation committee will review proposals under the project 
selection criteria. Members of the technical evaluation committee and 
other involved FTA staff reserve the right to screen and rate the 
applications it receives and to seek clarification from any applicant 
about any statement in its application that FTA finds ambiguous and/or 
to request additional documentation to be considered during the 
evaluation process to clarify information contained within the 
proposal.
    After consideration of the finds of the technical evaluation 
committee, the FTA Administrator will determine the final selection and 
amount of funding for each project. FTA may consider geographic 
diversity and the applicant's receipt of other discretionary awards in 
its award decisions.
    In addition to the general considerations mentioned above, projects 
will be selected based on the following criteria:
     National Applicability
     Statement of Need
     Innovation
     Project Management and Organizational Capacity
     Strategy and Project Work Plan
     Outcomes and Deliverables
     Support for needs of blue collar operations and 
maintenance workers

National Applicability

    The project should have national or regional applicability and 
provide a replicable model of workforce development practices.

Statement of Need

    An applicant must fully demonstrate a clear and specific industry 
need for the Federal investment in the proposed transit workforce 
development activities. An applicant must submit data and provide 
evidence of the industry need and value for proposed program.

Innovation

    A project should identify a unique, significant, or innovative 
approach to address workforce development issues in a transit agency or 
state DOT.

Project Management and Organizational Capacity

    An applicant must fully describe the capacity of the applicant and 
its required partners to effectively staff the proposed initiative and 
deliver the proposed outcomes. The application must also fully describe 
the applicant's fiscal, administrative, and performance management 
capacity to implement the key components of this project, and the track 
record of the applicant and its required partners in implementing 
projects of similar focus, size, and scope.

Strategy and Project Work Plan

    An applicant must provide a comprehensive project work plan. 
Factors considered in evaluating the project work plan will include: 
(1) The presentation of a coherent plan that demonstrates the 
applicant's complete understanding of all the activities, 
responsibilities, and costs required to implement each phase of the 
project and achieve projected outcomes; (2) the demonstrated 
feasibility and reasonableness of the timeline for accomplishing all 
necessary implementation activities, including the ability to 
expeditiously begin training; and (3) the extent to which the budget 
aligns with the proposed work plan and is justified with respect to the 
adequacy and reasonableness of resources requested.

Deliverables

    An applicant must demonstrate a results-oriented approach to 
managing and operating its project by providing projections for all 
applicable outcome categories relevant to measuring the success or 
impact of the project, describing the products and deliverables that 
will be produced as a result of the grant activities, and fully 
demonstrating the appropriateness and feasibility of achieving these 
results. The applicant must include projected outcomes, which will be 
used as goals for the grant.

Support for the Needs of Blue Collar Operations and Maintenance Workers

    Special consideration will be given to innovative projects or 
programs that support the training/professional development needs of 
blue-collar operations and maintenance workers, particularly in the 
area of new and emerging technologies.

VI. Award Administration Information

    a. Notification. After FTA has selected the proposals to be funded, 
successful applicants may be notified informally by email or telephone 
of their status.
    A package containing a formal award letter, instructions for 
entering into a cooperative agreement with FTA, copies of agreements 
for execution, and an approved budget will be sent to organizations 
(listed point of contact) whose submitted proposals have been selected 
for funding under the program. The ``award letter'' will indicate the 
date of the award and set forth any special conditions under which the 
project is approved. The date of award is the date that authorizes the 
recipient to incur project costs. Any activities that occur before this 
award are not eligible for reimbursement.
    b. Execution of the FTA Agreement. The recipient should execute and 
date the copies in accordance with the instructions provided in the 
award package, and return two signed copies of the FTA agreement to the 
FTA Office of Chief Counsel per the instructions. FTA should be advised 
promptly if the recipient is unable to execute the FTA agreement within 
90 days after the obligation date, (i.e., the date on which FTA 
officially approved a project).
    c. Start Date and Incurred Costs. Absent special circumstances, 
costs incurred prior to FTA award are not eligible as project expenses. 
Absent highly unusual circumstances, FTA cannot retroactively approve a 
project. The recipient may begin to incur project costs as of the date 
the award letter is signed by FTA and submitted to the awardee for 
signature.

VII. Additional Information

    Prospective applicants may also wish to visit the following Web 
sites for more information:
     http://www.fta.dot.gov.
     For more on managing projects in accordance with FTA 
Circular 6100.1D: Transit Research and Technology Programs: Application 
Instructions and Program Management Guidelines: http://fta.dot.gov/
legislation--law/

[[Page 32178]]

12349--12669.html. This includes requirements on project management and 
administration including quarterly reporting, financial management, and 
payment.

    Issued on: May 25, 2012.
Peter Rogoff,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2012-13220 Filed 5-30-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-57-P