[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 97 (Wednesday, May 20, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 28937-28943]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-12225]



[[Page 28937]]

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Rural Business-Cooperative Service


Inviting Applications for Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grants

AGENCY: Rural Business-Cooperative Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: The Rural Business-Cooperative Service announces the 
availability of $3,000,000 in competitive grant funds for the FY 2015 
Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant (SDGG) program, formerly known as 
the Small Socially-Disadvantaged Producer Grant program, as authorized 
by the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 
(Pub. L. 113-235). We are requesting proposals from applicants who will 
provide technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups in rural 
areas. The Agency is encouraging applications that direct grants to 
projects based in or serving census tracts with poverty rates greater 
than or equal to 20 percent. This emphasis will support Rural 
Development's (RD) mission of improving the quality of life for rural 
Americans and commitment to directing resources to those who most need 
them. Eligible applicants include Cooperatives, Groups of Cooperatives, 
and Cooperative Development Centers.

DATES: Completed applications for grants must be submitted on paper or 
electronically according to the following deadlines:
    Paper copies must be postmarked and mailed, shipped, or sent 
overnight no later than July 20, 2015. You may also hand carry your 
application to one of our field offices, but it must be received by 
close of business on the deadline date.
    Electronic copies must be received by http://www.grants.gov no 
later than midnight Eastern time July 14, 2015. Late applications are 
not eligible for funding under this Notice and will not be evaluated.

ADDRESSES: You should contact the USDA Rural Development State Office 
(State Office) located in the State where you are headquartered if you 
have questions. Contact information for State Offices can be found at: 
http://www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/state-offices. You are encouraged to 
contact your State Office well in advance of the application deadline 
to discuss your project and ask any questions about the application 
process. Program guidance as well as application templates may be 
obtained at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_SDGG.html or by contacting 
your USDA Rural Development State Office.
    If you want to submit an electronic application, follow the 
instructions for the SDGG funding announcement located at http://www.grants.gov. Please review the Grants.gov Web site at http://grants.gov/applicants/organization_registration.jsp for instructions on 
the process of registering your organization as soon as possible to 
ensure you are able to meet the electronic application deadline. You 
are strongly encouraged to file your application early and allow 
sufficient time to manage any technical issues that may arise. If you 
want to submit a paper application, send it to the State Office located 
in the State where you are headquartered. If you are headquartered in 
Washington, DC, please contact the Grants Division, Cooperative 
Programs, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, at (202) 690-1376 for 
guidance on where to submit your application.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Grants Division, Cooperative Programs, 
Rural Business-Cooperative Service, United States Department of 
Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., MS 3253, Room 4208-South, 
Washington, DC 20250-3250, or call 202-690-1376.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Overview

    Federal Agency Name: USDA Rural Business Cooperative Service.
    Funding Opportunity Title: Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant.
    Announcement Type: Initial funding request.
    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number: 10.871.
    Dates: Application Deadline. You must submit your complete 
application by July 20, 2015, or it will not be considered for funding. 
Electronic applications must be received by http://www.grants.gov no 
later than midnight Eastern Time July 14, 2015, or it will not be 
considered for funding.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act, the paperwork 
burden associated with this Notice has been approved by the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) under OMB Control Number 0570-0052.

A. Program Description

    The SDGG Program is authorized by 310B (e)(11) of the Consolidated 
Farm and Rural Development Act (7 U.S.C. 1932 (e)(11)). The primary 
objective of the SDGG program is to provide Technical Assistance to 
Socially-Disadvantaged Groups. Grants are available for Cooperative 
Development Centers, individual Cooperatives, or Groups of Cooperatives 
that serve Socially-Disadvantaged Groups and where a majority of the 
boards of directors or governing board is comprised of individuals who 
are members of Socially-Disadvantaged Groups.

Definitions

    The definitions you need to understand are as follows:
    Agency--Rural Business-Cooperative Service, an agency of the United 
States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development or a 
successor agency.
    Conflict of Interest--A situation in which a person or entity has 
competing personal, professional, or financial interests that make it 
difficult for the person or business to act impartially. Federal 
procurement standards prohibit transactions that involve a real or 
apparent conflict of interest for owners, employees, officers, agents, 
or their immediate family members having a financial or other interest 
in the outcome of the project; or that restrict open and free 
competition for unrestrained trade. Specifically, project funds may not 
be used for services or goods going to, or coming from, a person or 
entity with a real or apparent conflict of interest, including, but not 
limited to, owner(s) and their immediate family members. Examples of 
conflicts of interest include using grant funds to pay a member of the 
applicant's board of directors to provide proposed technical assistance 
to socially-disadvantaged groups; pay a cooperative member to provide 
proposed technical assistance to other members of the same cooperative; 
and pay an immediate family member of the applicant to provide proposed 
technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups.
    Cooperative--A business or organization owned by and operated for 
the benefit of those using its services and where a majority of the 
board of directors or governing board is comprised of individuals who 
are members of Socially-Disadvantaged Groups. Profits and earnings 
generated by the cooperative are distributed among the members, also 
known as user-owners.
    Cooperative Development Center--A nonprofit corporation or 
institution of higher education operated by the grantee for cooperative 
or business development and where a majority of the board of directors 
or governing board is comprised of individuals who are members of 
Socially-Disadvantaged

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Groups. It may or may not be an independent legal entity separate from 
the grantee. The Center's main objective is to provide Technical 
Assistance to existing Cooperatives and to groups that want to form 
Cooperatives.
    Feasibility Study--An analysis of the economic, market, technical, 
financial, and management feasibility of a proposed Project.
    Group of Cooperatives--A group of Cooperatives whose primary focus 
is to provide assistance to Socially-Disadvantaged Groups and where a 
majority of the board of directors or governing board is comprised of 
individuals who are members of Socially-Disadvantaged Groups.
    Operating Cost--The day-to-day expenses of running a business; for 
example: utilities, rent on the office space a business occupies, 
salaries, depreciation, marketing and advertising, and other basic 
overhead items.
    Participant Support Costs--Direct costs for items such as stipends 
or subsistence allowances, travel allowances, and registration fees 
paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in 
connection with conferences, or training projects.
    Project--Includes all activities to be funded by the Socially-
Disadvantaged Groups Grant.
    Rural and Rural Area--Any area of a State:
    (1) Not in a city or town that has a population of more than 50,000 
inhabitants, according to the latest decennial census of the United 
States; and
    (2) The contiguous and adjacent urbanized area,
    (3) Urbanized areas that are rural in character as defined by 7 
U.S.C. 1991 (a) (13).
    (4) For the purposes of this definition, cities and towns are 
incorporated population centers with definite boundaries, local self-
government, and legal powers set forth in a charter granted by the 
State. Notwithstanding any other provision of this paragraph, within 
the areas of the County of Honolulu, Hawaii, and the Commonwealth of 
Puerto Rico, the Secretary may designate any part of the areas as a 
rural area if the Secretary determines that the part is not urban in 
character, other than any area included in the Honolulu census 
designated place (CDP) or the San Juan CDP.
    Rural Development--A mission area within USDA consisting of the 
Office of Under Secretary for Rural Development, Rural Business-
Cooperative Services, Rural Housing Service, and Rural Utilities 
Service and any successors.
    Socially-Disadvantaged Group--A group whose members have been 
subjected to racial, ethnic, or gender prejudice because of their 
identity as members of a group without regard to their individual 
qualities.
    State--Includes each of the 50 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto 
Rico, the Virgin Islands of the United States, Guam, American Samoa, 
the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and, as may be 
determined by the Secretary to be feasible, appropriate and lawful, the 
Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands 
and the Republic of Palau.
    Technical Assistance--An advisory service performed for the benefit 
of a Socially-Disadvantaged Group such as market research, product and/
or service improvement, legal advice and assistance, Feasibility Study, 
business plan, marketing plan development, and training.

B. Federal Award Information

    Type of Award: Competitive Grant.
    Fiscal Year Funds: FY 2015.
    Total Funding: $3,000,000.
    Maximum Award: $175,000.
    Project Period: 1 year.
    Anticipated Award Date: September 30, 2015.

C. Eligibility Information

    Applicants must meet all of the following eligibility requirements. 
Applications which fail to meet any of these requirements by the 
application deadline will be deemed ineligible and will not be 
evaluated further.
    1. Eligible Applicants. Grants may be made to individual 
Cooperatives, Groups of Cooperatives, and Cooperative Development 
Centers that serve socially disadvantaged groups and where a majority 
of the board of directors or governing board is comprised of 
individuals who are members of Socially-Disadvantaged Groups. 
Federally-recognized Tribes and tribal entities must demonstrate that 
they meet all definition requirements for one of the three eligible 
applicant types. You must be able to verify your legal structure in the 
State in which you are incorporated. Grants may not be made to public 
bodies or to individuals.
    (a) An applicant is ineligible if they have been debarred or 
suspended or otherwise excluded from or ineligible for participation in 
Federal assistance programs under Executive Order 12549, ``Debarment 
and Suspension.'' In addition, an applicant will be considered 
ineligible for a grant due to an outstanding judgment obtained by the 
U.S. in a Federal Court (other than U.S. Tax Court), is delinquent on 
the payment of Federal income taxes, or is delinquent on Federal debt.
    (b) Any corporation (i) that has been convicted of a felony 
criminal violation under any Federal law within the past 24 months or 
(ii) that has any unpaid Federal tax liability that has been assessed, 
for which all judicial and administrative remedies have been exhausted 
or have lapsed, and that is not being paid in a timely manner pursuant 
to an agreement with the authority responsible for collecting the tax 
liability, is not eligible for financial assistance provided with funds 
appropriated by the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations 
Act, 2015, unless a Federal agency has considered suspension or 
debarment of the corporation and has made a determination that this 
further action is not necessary to protect the interests of the 
Government.
    2. Cost Sharing or Matching. No matching funds are required.
    3. Other Eligibility Requirements.
    Use of Funds: Your application must propose Technical Assistance 
that will benefit Socially-Disadvantaged Groups. Please review section 
D (6) of this Notice, ``Funding Restrictions,'' carefully.
    Project Area Eligibility: The proposed Project must take place in a 
Rural Area as defined in this Notice.
    Grant Period Eligibility: If awarded, grant funds must be used 
within 12 months. Applications must have a time frame of one year or 
less. Your proposed time frame should begin no earlier than the grant 
award date and end no later than December 31, 2016. However, you should 
note that the anticipated award date is September 30, so your proposed 
start date should be after September 30, 2015. Projects must be 
completed within the 12-month time frame. The Agency may approve 
requests to extend the grant period for up to an additional 12 months 
at its discretion. Further guidance on grant period extensions will be 
provided in the award document.
    However, you may not have more than one active SDGG during the same 
grant period. If you receive another SDGG during the next grant cycle, 
the first grant must be closed before funds can be obligated for the 
new grant. Applications that request funds for a time period ending 
after December 31, 2016, will not be considered for funding.
    If you have an existing Small Socially-Disadvantaged Producer Grant 
award, you must be performing satisfactorily to be considered eligible 
for a new SDGG award. Satisfactory performance

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includes being up-to-date on all financial and performance reports and 
being current on all tasks as approved in the work plan. The Agency 
will use its discretion to make this determination.
    Completeness Eligibility: Your application must provide all of the 
information requested in Section D (2) of this Notice. Applications 
lacking sufficient information to determine eligibility and scoring 
will be considered ineligible.
    Multiple Grant Eligibility: You may only submit one SDGG grant 
application each funding cycle.

D. Application and Submission Information

1. Address To Request Application Package

    The application template for applying on paper for this funding 
opportunity is located at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_SDGG.html. Use 
of the application template is strongly recommended to assist you with 
the application process. You may also contact your USDA Rural 
Development State Office for more information. Contact information for 
State Offices is located at http://www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/state-offices. You may also obtain an application package by calling 202-690-
1376.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

    You may submit your application in paper form or electronically 
through Grants.gov. Your application must contain all required 
information.
    To submit an application electronically, you must follow the 
instructions for this funding announcement at http://www.grants.gov. 
Please note that we cannot accept emailed or faxed applications.
    You can locate the Grants.gov downloadable application package for 
this program by using a keyword, the program name, or the Catalog of 
Federal Domestic Assistance Number for this program.
    When you enter the Grants.gov Web site, you will find information 
about submitting an application electronically through the site, as 
well as the hours of operation.
    To use Grants.gov, you must already have a DUNS number and you must 
also be registered and maintain registration in SAM. We strongly 
recommend that you do not wait until the application deadline date to 
begin the application process through Grants.gov.
    You must submit all of your application documents electronically 
through Grants.gov. Applications must include electronic signatures. 
Original signatures may be required if funds are awarded.
    After electronically submitting an application through Grants.gov, 
you will receive an automatic acknowledgement from Grants.gov that 
contains a Grants.gov tracking number.
    If you want to submit a paper application, send it to the State 
Office located in the State where you are headquartered. You can find 
State Office contact information at: http://www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/state-offices.
    Your application must also contain the following required forms and 
proposal elements:
    a. Form SF-424, ``Application for Federal Assistance,'' to include 
your DUNS number and SAM Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) code 
and expiration date. Because there are no specific fields for a CAGE 
code and expiration date, you may identify them anywhere you want to on 
the form. If you do not include the CAGE code and expiration date and 
the DUNS number in your application, it will not be considered for 
funding.
    b. Form SF-424A, ``Budget Information-Non-Construction Programs.'' 
This form must be completed and submitted as part of the application 
package.
    c. Form SF-424B, ``Assurances--Non-Construction Programs.'' This 
form must be completed, signed, and submitted as part of the 
application package.
    d. Form AD-3030, ``Representations Regarding Felony Conviction and 
Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate Applicants,'' if you are a 
corporation. A corporation is any entity that has filed articles of 
incorporation in one of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, the 
Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, and the Republic 
of the Marshall Islands, or the various territories of the United 
States including American Samoa, Guam, Midway Islands, the Commonwealth 
of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin 
Islands. Corporations include both for profit and non-profit entities.
    e. You must certify that there are no current outstanding Federal 
judgments against your property and that you will not use grant funds 
to pay for any judgment obtained by the United States. To satisfy the 
Certification requirement, you should include this statement in your 
application: ``[INSERT NAME OF APPLICANT] certifies that the United 
States has not obtained an unsatisfied judgment against its property 
and will not use grant funds to pay any judgments obtained by the 
United States.'' A separate signature is not required.
    f. Table of Contents. Your application must contain a detailed 
Table of Contents (TOC). The TOC must include page numbers for each 
part of the application. Page numbers should begin immediately 
following the TOC.
    g. Executive Summary. A summary of the proposal, not to exceed one 
page, must briefly describe the Project, tasks to be completed, and 
other relevant information that provides a general overview of the 
Project.
    h. Eligibility Discussion. A detailed discussion, not to exceed 
four pages, must describe how you meet the following requirements:
    (i) Applicant Eligibility. You must describe how you meet the 
definition of a Cooperative, Group of Cooperatives, or Cooperative 
Development Center. Your application must show that your individual 
Cooperative, Group of Cooperatives or Cooperative Development Center 
serves socially disadvantaged groups and a majority of the board of 
directors or governing board is comprised of individuals who are 
members of Socially-Disadvantaged Groups. Your application must include 
a list of your board of directors/governing board and the percentage of 
board of directors/governing board that are members of Socially-
Disadvantaged Groups. NOTE: Your application will not be considered for 
funding if you fail to show that a majority of your board of directors/
governing board is comprised of individuals who are members of 
Socially-Disadvantaged Groups.
    If applying as a Cooperative or a Group of Cooperatives, you must 
verify your incorporation and status in the State that you have applied 
by providing the State's Certificate of Good Standing and your Articles 
of Incorporation. If applying as a nonprofit corporation, you must 
provide evidence of your status as a nonprofit corporation in good 
standing and your Articles of Incorporation. If applying as an 
institution of higher education, you must qualify as an Institution of 
Higher Education as defined at 20 U.S.C. 1001. You must apply as only 
one type of applicant. If the requested verification documents are not 
included, your application will not be considered for funding.
    (ii) Use of Funds. You must provide a detailed discussion on how 
the proposed Project activities meet the definition of Technical 
Assistance and identify the socially-disadvantaged groups that will be 
assisted.
    (iii) Project Area. You must provide specific information that 
details the

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location of the Project area and explain how the area meets the 
definition of ``Rural Area.''
    (iv) Grant Period. You must provide a time frame for the proposed 
Project and discuss how the Project will be completed within that time 
frame. You must have a time frame of one year or less.
    i. Scoring Criteria. Each of the scoring criteria in this Notice 
must be addressed in narrative form, with a maximum of two pages for 
each individual scoring criterion, unless otherwise specified. Failure 
to address each scoring criteria will result in the application being 
determined ineligible.
    j. The Agency has established annual performance evaluation 
measures to evaluate the SDGG program. You must provide estimates on 
the following performance evaluation measures as part of your 
narrative:
     Number of businesses assisted;
     Number of cooperatives assisted; and
     Number of socially disadvantaged groups assisted.

3. DUNS Number and SAM

    In order to be eligible (unless you are excepted under 2 CFR 
25.110(b), (c) or (d), you are required to:
    (a) Provide a valid DUNS number in your application, which can be 
obtained at no cost via a toll-free request line at (866) 705-5711;
    (b) Register in SAM before submitting your application. You may 
register in SAM at no cost at https://www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM/; 
and
    (c) Continue to maintain an active SAM registration with current 
information at all times during which you have an active Federal award 
or an application or plan under consideration by a Federal awarding 
agency.
    The Agency may not make a Federal award to you until you have 
complied with all applicable DUNS and SAM requirements. If you have not 
fully complied with requirements by the time the Agency is ready to 
make a Federal award, the Agency may determine that the applicant is 
not qualified to receive a Federal award and the Agency may use this 
determination as a basis for making an award to another applicant.

4. Submission Dates and Times

    Application Deadline Date: July 20, 2015.
    Explanation of Deadlines: Paper applications must be postmarked and 
mailed, shipped, or sent overnight by July 20, 2015. The Agency will 
determine whether your application is late based on the date shown on 
the postmark or shipping invoice. You may also hand carry your 
application to one of our field offices, but it must be received by 
close of business on the deadline date. If the due date falls on a 
Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday, the reporting package is due the 
next business day. Late applications are not eligible for funding and 
will not be evaluated further.
    Electronic applications must be RECEIVED by http://www.grants.gov 
by midnight Eastern time July 14, 2015, to be eligible for funding. 
Please review the Grants.gov Web site at http://grants.gov/applicants/organization_registration.jsp for instructions on the process of 
registering your organization as soon as possible to ensure you are 
able to meet the electronic application deadline. Grants.gov will not 
accept applications submitted after the deadline.

5. Intergovernmental Review

    Executive Order (EO) 12372, Intergovernmental Review of Federal 
Programs, applies to this program. This EO requires that Federal 
agencies provide opportunities for consultation on proposed assistance 
with State and local governments. Many States have established a Single 
Point of Contact (SPOC) to facilitate this consultation. A list of 
States that maintain a SPOC may be obtained at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants_spoc. If your State has a SPOC, you may 
submit your application directly for review. Any comments obtained 
through the SPOC must be provided to Rural Development for 
consideration as part of your application. If your State has not 
established a SPOC or you do not want to submit your application to the 
SPOC, Rural Development will submit your application to the SPOC or 
other appropriate agency or agencies.
    You are also encouraged to contact Cooperative Programs at 202-690-
1376 or cpgrants@wdc.usda.gov if you have questions about this process.

6. Funding Restrictions

    Grant funds must be used for Technical Assistance. No funds made 
available under this solicitation shall be used to:
    a. Plan, repair, rehabilitate, acquire, or construct a building or 
facility, including a processing facility;
    b. Purchase, rent, or install fixed equipment, including processing 
equipment;
    c. Purchase vehicles, including boats;
    d. Pay for the preparation of the grant application;
    e. Pay expenses not directly related to the funded Project;
    f. Fund political or lobbying activities;
    g. To fund any activities considered unallowable by the applicable 
grant cost principles, including 2 CFR part 200, subpart E and the 
Federal Acquisition Regulation.
    h. Fund architectural or engineering design work for a specific 
physical facility;
    i. Fund any direct expenses for the production of any commodity or 
product to which value will be added, including seed, rootstock, labor 
for harvesting the crop, and delivery of the commodity to a processing 
facility;
    j. Fund research and development;
    k. Purchase land;
    l. Duplicate current activities or activities paid for by other 
funded grant programs.
    m. Pay costs of the Project incurred prior to the date of grant 
approval;
    n. Pay for assistance to any private business enterprise that does 
not have at least 51 percent ownership by those who are either citizens 
of the United States or reside in the United States after being legally 
admitted for permanent residence;
    o. Pay any judgment or debt owed to the United States;
    p. Pay any Operating Costs of the Cooperative, Group of 
Cooperatives, or Cooperative Development Center not directly related to 
the Project;
    q. Pay expenses for applicant employee training; or
    r. Pay for any goods or services from a person who has a Conflict 
of Interest with the grantee.
    In addition, your application will not be considered for funding if 
it does any of the following:
     Requests more than the maximum grant amount;
     Proposes ineligible costs that equal more than 10 percent 
of total grant funds requested; or
     Proposes Participant Support Costs that equal more than 10 
percent of total grant funds requested.
    We will consider your application for funding if it includes 
ineligible costs of 10 percent or less of total grant funds requested, 
as long as it is determined eligible otherwise. However, if your 
application is successful, those ineligible costs must be removed and 
replaced with eligible costs before the Agency will make the grant 
award or the amount of the grant award will be reduced accordingly. If 
we cannot determine the percentage of ineligible costs, your 
application will not be considered for funding.

7. Other Submission Requirements

    (a) You should not submit your application in more than one format. 
You must choose whether to submit

[[Page 28941]]

your application in hard copy or electronically. Applications submitted 
in hard copy should be mailed or hand-delivered to the State Office 
located in the State where you are headquartered. You can find State 
Office contact information at: http://www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/state-offices.your State Office. To submit an application electronically, you 
must follow the instructions for this funding announcement at http://www.grants.gov. A password is not required to access the Web site.
    (b) National Environmental Policy Act. This NOFA has been reviewed 
in accordance with 7 CFR part 1940, subpart G, ``Environmental 
Program.'' We have determined that an Environmental Impact Statement is 
not required because the issuance of regulations and instructions, as 
well as amendments to them, describing administrative and financial 
procedures for processing, approving, and implementing the Agency's 
financial programs is categorically excluded in the Agency's National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulation found at 7 CFR 
1940.310(e)(3) of subpart G, ``Environmental Program.'' We have 
determined that this NOFA does not constitute a major Federal action 
significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. 
Individual awards under this NOFA are hereby classified as Categorical 
Exclusions according to 7 CFR 1940.310(e), the award of financial 
assistance for planning purposes, management and feasibility studies, 
or environmental impact analyses, which do not require any additional 
documentation.
    (c) Civil Rights Compliance Requirements. All grants made under 
this Notice are subject to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as 
required by the USDA (7 CFR part 15, subpart A) and Section 504 of the 
Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

E. Application Review Information

1. Scoring Criteria

    All eligible and complete applications will be evaluated based on 
the following criteria. Failure to address any one of the following 
criteria by the application deadline will result in the application 
being determined ineligible and the application will not be considered 
for funding. Evaluators will base scores only on the information 
provided or cross-referenced by page number in each individual scoring 
criterion. The total points possible for the criteria are 60.
    I. Technical Assistance (maximum score of 15 points). A panel of 
USDA employees will evaluate your application to determine your ability 
to assess the needs of Socially-Disadvantaged Groups. You must explain 
why the proposed Technical Assistance is needed and provide a detailed 
plan that describes your method of providing assistance. You must also 
identify the expected outcomes of the proposed Technical Assistance.
    Higher points are awarded if you identify specific needs of the 
Socially-Disadvantaged Groups to be assisted; clearly explain a logical 
and detailed plan of assistance for addressing those needs; and discuss 
realistic outcomes of planned assistance.
    II. Experience (maximum score of 15 points). A panel of USDA 
employees will evaluate your length of experience for identified staff 
or consultants in providing Technical Assistance, as defined in this 
Notice. You must describe the specific type of Technical Assistance 
experience for each identified staff member or consultant, as well as 
years of experience in providing that assistance. In addition, resumes 
for each individual staff member or consultant must be included as an 
attachment, listing their experience for the type of Technical 
Assistance proposed. The attachments will not count toward the maximum 
page total. We will compare the described experience to the work plan 
to determine relevance of the experience. Applications that do not 
include the attached resumes will not be considered for funding.
    Higher points will be awarded if a majority of identified staff or 
consultants demonstrate 5 or more years of experience in providing 
relevant Technical Assistance in accordance with the work plan. Maximum 
points will be awarded if all of the identified staff or consultants 
demonstrate 5 or more years of experience in providing relevant 
Technical Assistance.
    III. Commitment (maximum of 10 points). A panel of USDA employees 
will evaluate your commitment to providing Technical Assistance to 
Socially-Disadvantaged Groups in Rural Areas. You must list the number 
and location of Socially-Disadvantaged Groups that will directly 
benefit from the assistance provided. If you define and describe the 
underserved and economically distressed areas within your service area 
and provide current and relevant statistics that support your 
description of the service area, you will score higher on this factor.
    IV. Work Plan/Budget (maximum of 15 points)--Four page limit. Your 
work plan must provide specific and detailed descriptions of the tasks 
and the key project personnel that will accomplish the project's goals. 
Budget will be reviewed for completeness. You must list what tasks are 
to be done, when it will be done, who will do it, and how much it will 
cost. Reviewers must be able to understand what is being proposed and 
how the grant funds will be spent. The budget must be a detailed 
breakdown of estimated costs. These costs should be allocated to each 
of the tasks to be undertaken. The amount of grant funds requested will 
be reduced if the applicant does not have justification for all costs.
    A panel of USDA employees will evaluate your work plan for detailed 
actions and an accompanying timetable for implementing the proposal. 
Clear, logical, realistic, and efficient plans will result in a higher 
score. You must discuss at a minimum:
    a. Specific tasks to be completed using grant funds;
    b. How customers will be identified;
    c. Key personnel; and
    d. The evaluation methods to be used to determine the success of 
specific tasks and overall project objectives. Please provide 
qualitative methods of evaluation. For example, evaluation methods 
should go beyond quantitative measurements of completing surveys or 
number of evaluations.
    V. Local support (maximum of 5 points). A panel of USDA employees 
will evaluate your application for local support of the Technical 
Assistance activities. Applicants that demonstrate strong support from 
potential beneficiaries and other developmental organizations will 
receive more points than those not showing such support.
    (i) 0 points are awarded if you do not address this criterion.
    (ii) 1 point is awarded if you provide 2-3 support letters that 
show support from potential beneficiaries and/or support from local 
organizations.
    (iii) 2 points are awarded if you provide 4-5 support letters that 
show support from potential beneficiaries and/or support from local 
organizations.
    (iv) 3 points are awarded if you provide 6-7 support letters that 
show support from potential beneficiaries and/or support from local 
organizations.
    (v) 4 points are awarded if you provide 8-9 support letters that 
show support from potential beneficiaries and/or support from local 
organizations.
    (vi) 5 points are awarded if you provide 10 support letters that 
show support from potential beneficiaries and/or support from local 
organizations.
    You may submit a maximum of 10 letters of support. Support letters 
should come from potential beneficiaries and

[[Page 28942]]

other local organizations. Letters received from Technical Assistance 
providers and Congressional members will not be included in the count 
of support letters received. Support letters should be included as an 
attachment to the application and will not count against the maximum 
page total. Additional letters from industry groups, commodity groups, 
Congressional members, and similar organizations should be referenced, 
but not included in the application package. When referencing these 
letters, provide the name of the organization, date of the letter, the 
nature of the support, and the name and title of the person signing the 
letter.

2. Review and Selection Process

    The State Offices will review applications to determine if they are 
eligible for assistance based on requirements in this Notice, and other 
applicable Federal regulations. If determined eligible, your 
application will be scored by a panel of USDA employees in accordance 
with the point allocation specified in this Notice. The panel will 
consist of USDA employees with expertise in providing Technical 
Assistance to Socially-Disadvantaged Groups. The review panel will 
convene to reach a consensus on the scores for each of the eligible 
applications. A recommendation will be submitted to the Administrator 
to fund applications in highest ranking order. Applications that cannot 
be fully funded may be offered partial funding at the Agency's 
discretion. If your application is ranked and not funded, it will not 
be carried forward into the next competition.

F. Federal Award Administration Information

1. Federal Award Notices

    If you are selected for funding, you will receive a signed notice 
of Federal award by postal mail, containing instructions on 
requirements necessary to proceed with execution and performance of the 
award.
    If you are not selected for funding, you will be notified in 
writing via postal mail and informed of any review and appeal rights. 
Funding of successfully appealed applications will be limited to 
available FY 2015 funding.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

    Additional requirements that apply to grantees selected for this 
program can be found in 7 CFR part 4284, subpart A, and 2 CFR parts 
200, 215, 400, 415, 417, 418, and 421. All recipients of Federal 
financial assistance are required to report information about first-
tier subawards and executive compensation (See 2 CFR part 170). You 
will be required to have the necessary processes and systems in place 
to comply with the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act 
reporting requirements (See 2 CFR 170.200(b), unless you are exempt 
under 2 CFR 170.110(b)). These regulations may be obtained at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr/index.html.
    The following additional requirements apply to grantees selected 
for this program:
     Agency approved Grant Agreement.
     Letter of Conditions.
     Form RD 1940-1, ``Request for Obligation of Funds.''
     Form RD 1942-46, ``Letter of Intent to Meet Conditions.''
     Form AD-1047, ``Certification Regarding Debarment, 
Suspension, and Other Responsibility Matters-Primary Covered 
Transactions.''
     Form AD-1048, ``Certification Regarding Debarment, 
Suspension, Ineligibility and Voluntary Exclusion-Lower Tier Covered 
Transactions.''
     Form AD-1049, ``Certification Regarding a Drug-Free 
Workplace Requirement (Grants).''
     Form AD-3031, ``Assurance Regarding Felony Conviction or 
Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate Applicants.'' Must be signed by 
corporate applicants who receive an award under this Notice.
     Form RD 400-4, ``Assurance Agreement.''
     SF LLL, ``Disclosure of Lobbying Activities,'' if 
applicable.

3. Reporting

    After grant approval and through grant completion, you will be 
required to provide the following:
    a. A SF-425, ``Federal Financial Report,'' and a project 
performance report will be required on a semiannual basis (due 30 
working days after end of the semiannual period). For the purposes of 
this grant, semiannual periods end on March 31st and September 30th. 
The project performance reports shall include the following: A 
comparison of actual accomplishments to the objectives established for 
that period;
    b. Reasons why established objectives were not met, if applicable;
    c. Reasons for any problems, delays, or adverse conditions, if any, 
which have affected or will affect attainment of overall project 
objectives, prevent meeting time schedules or objectives, or preclude 
the attainment of particular objectives during established time 
periods. This disclosure shall be accompanied by a statement of the 
action taken or planned to resolve the situation; and
    d. Objectives and timetable established for the next reporting 
period.
    e. Provide a final project and financial status report within 90 
days after the expiration or termination of the grant.
    f. Provide outcome project performance reports and final 
deliverables.

G. Agency Contacts

    For general questions about this announcement and for program 
Technical Assistance, please contact the appropriate State Office as 
indicated in the ADDRESSES section of this Notice. You may also contact 
National Office staff: Melinda Martin, SDGG Program Lead, 
Melinda.C.Martin@wdc.usda.gov, or call 202-690-1376.

H. Other Information

Non Discrimination Statement

    USDA prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and 
applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, 
age, disability, sex, gender identify, religion, reprisal, and where 
applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental 
status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual's income is 
derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic 
information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or 
funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all 
programs and/or employment activities.)

To File a Program Complaint

    If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of 
discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form 
(PDF), found online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complain_filing_cust.html, or at any USDA office, or call (866) 632-
9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of 
the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint 
form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, 
Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., 
Washington, DC 20250-9410, by fax (202) 690-7442 or email at 
program.intake@usda.gov.

Persons With Disabilities

    Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech 
disabilities and who wish to file either an EEO or program complaint, 
please contact USDA through the Federal Relay

[[Page 28943]]

Service at (800) 877-8339 or (800) 845-6136 (in Spanish).
    Persons with disabilities, who wish to file a program complaint, 
please see information above on how to contact us by mail directly or 
by email. If you require alternative means of communication for program 
information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.), please 
contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).

    Dated: May 14, 2015.
Lillian Salerno,
Administrator, Rural Business-Cooperative Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-12225 Filed 5-19-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-XY-P