[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 99 (Friday, May 22, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 29602-29609]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-12222]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Rural Utilities Service


Announcement of Grant Application Deadlines

AGENCY: Rural Utilities Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of Solicitation of Applications (NOSA).

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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) 2015. RUS has published on its Web site http://www.rd.usda.gov/newsroom/notices-solicitation-applications-nosas the 
amount of funding received through the final appropriations act. 
Expenses incurred in developing applications will be at the applicant's 
risk.
    In addition to announcing the application window, RUS announces the 
minimum and maximum amounts

[[Page 29603]]

for DLT grants applicable for the fiscal year. The DLT Grant Program 
regulations can be found at 7 CFR part 1703, subparts D through G.

DATES: You may submit completed applications for grants on paper or 
electronically by the following deadline:
     Paper submissions: Paper submissions must be postmarked 
and mailed, shipped, or sent overnight no later than July 6, 2015 to be 
eligible for FY 2015 grant funding. Late or incomplete applications 
will not be eligible for FY 2015 grant funding.
     Electronic submissions: Electronic submissions must be 
received by July 6, 2015 to be eligible for FY 2015 grant funding. Late 
or incomplete applications will not be eligible for FY 2015 grant 
funding.
     If the submission deadline falls on Saturday, Sunday, or a 
Federal holiday, the application is due the next business day.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the FY 2015 Application Guide and materials for 
the DLT grant program may be obtained by the following:
    (1) The DLT Web site: http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/distance-learning-telemedicine-grants and
    (2) Contacting the RUS Loan Origination and Approval Division at 
202-720-0800.
    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 2808, STOP 1597, Washington, DC 20250-1597. Applications 
should be marked ``Attention: Deputy Assistant Administrator, Loan 
Origination and Approval Division, Rural Utilities Service.''
    (2) Electronic: Electronic applications must 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: Shawn Arner, Deputy Assistant 
Administrator, Loan Origination and Approval Division, Rural Utilities 
Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Telephone: (202) 720-0800, 
fax: (202) 205-2921.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Overview

    Federal Agency: Rural Utilities Service (RUS).
    Funding Opportunity Title: Distance Learning and Telemedicine 
Grants.
    Announcement Type: Initial announcement.
    Funding Opportunity Number: RUS-15-01-DLT.
    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 10.855.
    Dates: You may submit completed applications for grants on paper or 
electronically according to the deadlines indicated in section D(4).

A. Program Description

    DLT grants are specifically designed to provide access to 
education, training and health care resources for rural Americans. The 
DLT Program is authorized by 7 U.S.C. 950aaa and 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. 
Regulations for the DLT Program can be found at 7 CFR part 1703 
(Subparts D through G).
    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 areas. Grants are intended to 
benefit end users in rural areas, who are often not in the same 
location as the source of the educational or health care service.
    As in years past, the FY 2015 DLT Grant Application Guide has been 
updated based on program experience. All applicants should carefully 
review and prepare their applications according to instructions in the 
FY 2015 Application Guide and sample materials when completing a DLT 
grant application.
    Expenses incurred in developing applications will be at the 
applicant's own risk.

B. Federal Award Information

    Under 7 CFR 1703.124, the Administrator has established a minimum 
grant amount of $50,000 and a maximum grant amount of $500,000 for FY 
2015.
    Award documents specify the term of each award. The Agency will 
make awards and successful applicants will be required to execute 
documents appropriate to the project prior to any advance of funds to 
successful applicants. Prior DLT grants cannot be renewed; however, 
applications from existing DLT awardees for new projects are acceptable 
(grant applications must be submitted during the application window) 
and will be evaluated as new applications.

C. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants (See 7 CFR 1703.103)
    a. Only entities legally organized as one of the following are 
eligible for DLT grants:
    i. An incorporated organization or a partnership,
    ii. An Indian tribe or tribal organization, as defined in 25 U.S.C. 
450b,
    iii. A state or local unit of government,
    iv. A consortium, as defined in 7 CFR 1703.102,
    v. A library, or
    vi. Other legal entity, including a private corporation organized 
on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis.
    b. Individuals are not eligible for DLT program financial 
assistance directly.
    c. Electric and telecommunications borrowers under the Rural 
Electrification Act of 1936 (7 U.S.C. 901 et seq.) are not eligible for 
grants.
    d. Corporations that have been convicted of a Federal felony within 
the past 24 months are not eligible. Any corporation 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.
    e. Applicants must have an active registration with current 
information in the System for Award Management (SAM) (previously the 
Central Contractor Registry (CCR)) at https:\\www.sam.gov and have a 
Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number.
2. Cost Sharing or Matching
    The DLT Program requires matching contributions for grants. See 7 
CFR 1703.125(g) 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 and section D(6)(a)(ii) of this Notice).

[[Page 29604]]

    b. Greater amounts of eligible matching contributions may increase 
an applicant's score (see 7 CFR 1703.126(b)(4)).
    c. Applications that do not provide evidence of the required 
fifteen percent match will be declared ineligible. See the FY 2015 
Application Guide for more information on matching contributions.
    d. Matching contributions which are not sufficiently documented are 
subject to disallowance and may result in an ineligible application.
    e. Discounts. The DLT Program regulation provides that 
manufacturers' and service providers' discounts are not eligible 
matches. In the past, the Agency did not consider as eligible any 
proposed match from a vendor, manufacturer, or service provider whose 
products or services would also be purchased for the DLT project. 
However, the agency has now determined that if a vendor can demonstrate 
that the donated product is normally sold at the in-kind matching 
price, then it will accept such products for in-kind matches, and not 
at a discount. 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 
products or services must be shown to be normally offered at, or higher 
than, the contract price of the products or services to be provided on 
the project.
    f. Eligible Equipment & Facilities. Please see 7 CFR 1703.102 and 
the FY 2015 Application Guide for more information regarding eligible 
and ineligible items.
    g. Apportioning budget items. Many DLT applications propose to use 
items for a blend of specific DLT eligible project purposes and other 
purposes. RUS will consider funding such items in the overall context 
of the project, but such items will affect the competitive value of the 
project compared with other projects. The proposed project could 
receive a lower score in the subjective areas of the grant to the 
extent that its budget requests items that have limited or questionable 
value to the purposes of distance learning or telemedicine. See the FY 
2015 Application Guide for detailed information on how to apportion use 
and apportioning illustrations.
3. Other
    a. Minimum Rurality Requirements. The DLT grant program is designed 
to bring the benefits of distance learning and telemedicine to 
residents of rural America. Therefore, to be eligible, applicants must 
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. All 
projects proposed for DLT grant assistance must meet a minimum rurality 
threshold, to ensure that benefits from the projects flow to rural 
residents.
    b. Ineligibility of Projects in Coastal Barrier Resources Act 
Areas. 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).

D. Application and Submission Information

    See the FY 2015 Application Guide for more information on the items 
that comprise a complete application. For requirements of completed 
grant applications you may also refer to 7 CFR 1703.125. The FY 2015 
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 and strongly 
encourages applicants to follow the instructions carefully, using the 
examples and illustrations in the FY 2015 Application Guide. 
Applications that 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, depending on the specific scoring criteria, may 
still be eligible applications, but may not receive full or any credit 
if the information cannot be verified. Please see the FY 2015 
Application Guide for a full discussion of each required item and for 
samples and illustrations.
    1. Address to Request Application Package. The FY 2015 Application 
Guide, copies of necessary forms and samples, and the DLT Program 
regulation are available from these sources:
    a. The Internet: http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/distance-learning-telemedicine-grants.
    b. The Rural Utilities Service, Loan Origination and Approval 
Division, for paper copies of these materials: 202-720-0800.
    2. Content and Form of Application Submission.
    Applicants are reminded that the DLT Grant Program is intended to 
meet the educational and health care needs of rural America. Hub sites 
may be located in rural or non-rural areas, but end-user sites need to 
be located in rural areas. Non-fixed sites serving a geographical 
service area may include non-rural areas.
    If a grant application includes a site that is included in any 
other DLT grant application for FY 2015, or a site that has been 
included in any DLT grant funded in FY 2014 or FY 2013, the application 
should contain a detailed explanation of the related applications or 
grants. The Agency must make a nonduplication finding for each grant 
approved; however, an apparent but unexplained duplication of funding 
for a site can prevent such a finding.
    a. Detailed information on each item included in the Table of 
Required Elements of a Completed Grant Application found in section 
D(2)(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 describes the regulation.
    i. 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.
    ii. When documentation is requested, it means letters, 
certifications, legal documents, or other third-party documentation 
that provides evidence that the applicant meets the listed requirement. 
For example, to confirm rurality scores, applicants can use printouts 
from the Web site http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml. Leveraging documentation generally will be letters of 
commitment from other funding sources. In-kind matches must be items 
purchased or donated after the application deadline date that are 
essential to the project and documentation from the vendor or 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.

[[Page 29605]]

    b. The DLT Application Guide and ancillary materials provide all 
necessary sample forms and worksheets.The FY 2015 Application Guide 
also specifies the format and order of all required items.
    c. 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.
    d. While the table in section D(2)(g) of this Notice includes all 
items of a completed application, the Agency may ask for additional or 
clarifying information for applications submitted by the deadline which 
appear to demonstrate that they meet eligibility requirements, but 
which may require follow up by the Agency.
    e. Given the high volume of program interest, to expedite 
processing applicants are asked to submit the required application 
items in the order depicted in the FY 2015 Application Guide. The FY 
2015 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. For applications 
with inconsistency among submitted copies, the Agency will base its 
evaluation on the original signed application received by the Agency.
    f. Compliance with other federal statutes.
    The applicant must provide evidence of compliance with other 
federal statutes and regulations as provided in the FY 2015 Application 
Guide, 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. 2 CFR part 417--Nonprocurement Debarment and Suspension.
    iii. 2 CFR parts 200 and 400 (Uniform Assistance Requirements, Cost 
Principles and Audit Requirements For Federal Awards).
    iv. 2 CFR part 182 (Governmentwide Requirements For Drug-Free 
Workplace (Financial Assistance)) and 2 CFR part 421 (Requirements For 
Drug Free Workplace (Financial Assistance)).
    v. Executive Order 13166, ``Improving Access to Services for 
Persons with Limited English Proficiency.'' For information on limited 
English proficiency and agency-specific guidance, go to http://www.LEP.gov.
    vi. Federal Obligation Certification on Delinquent Debt.
    g. Table of Required Elements of a Completed Grant Application

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                                                          REQUIRED items, unless otherwise noted
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            Application item                Grants  (7 CFR 1703.125 and 7 CFR
                                                        1703.126)                            Comment
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
SF-424 (Application for Federal           Yes..................................  Completely filled out.
 Assistance form).
Site Worksheet..........................  Yes..................................  Agency worksheet.
Survey on Ensuring Equal Opportunity for  Optional.............................  OMB Form.
 Applicants.
Evidence of Legal Authority to Contract   Yes..................................  Documentation.
 with the Government.
Evidence of Legal Existence.............  Yes..................................  Documentation.
Executive Summary.......................  Yes..................................  Narrative.
Telecommunications System Plan and Scope  Yes..................................  Narrative & documentation such
 of Work.                                                                         as maps and diagrams.
Budget..................................  Yes..................................  Agency Worksheets with
                                                                                  documentation.
Financial Information/Sustainability....  Yes..................................  Narrative.
Statement of Experience.................  Yes..................................  Narrative 3-page, single-spaced
                                                                                  limit.
Rurality Worksheet......................  Yes..................................  Agency worksheet with
                                                                                  documentation.
National School Lunch Program (NSLP)      Yes..................................  Agency worksheet with
 Worksheet.                                                                       documentation.
Leveraging Evidence and Funding           Yes..................................  Agency worksheet and source
 Commitments from all Sources.                                                    documentation.
Request for Additional NSLP.............  Optional.............................  Agency Worksheet and narrative.
Need for and Benefits derived from        Yes..................................  Narrative & documentation.
 Project.
Innovativeness of the Project...........  Yes..................................  Narrative & documentation.
Cost Effectiveness of Project...........  Yes..................................  Narrative & documentation.
Consultation with the USDA State          Yes..................................  Documentation.
 Director, Rural Development, and
 evidence that application conforms to
 State Strategic Plan, if any.
Special Consideration...................  Optional.............................  Documentation supporting end
                                                                                  user site is in a Trust Area
                                                                                  or Tribal Jurisdiction Area.
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                                                 Certifications
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Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination.  Yes..................................  Form provided in FY 2015
                                                                                  Application Tool Kit.
Architectural Barriers..................  Yes..................................  Form provided in FY 2015
                                                                                  Application Tool Kit.
Flood Hazard Area Precautions...........  Yes..................................  Form provided in FY 2015
                                                                                  Application Tool Kit.
Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real    Yes..................................  Form provided in FY 2015
 Property Acquisition Policies Act of                                             Application Tool Kit.
 1970.
Drug-Free Workplace.....................  Yes..................................  Form provided in FY 2015
                                                                                  Application Tool Kit.
Debarment, Suspension, and Other          Yes..................................  Form provided in FY 2015
 Responsibility Matters--Primary Covered                                          Application Tool Kit.
 Transactions.
Lobbying for Contracts, Grants, Loans,    Yes..................................  Form provided in FY 2015
 and Cooperative Agreements.                                                      Application Tool Kit.
Non-Duplication of Services.............  Yes..................................  Form provided in FY 2015
                                                                                  Application Tool Kit.
Environmental Impact/Historic             Yes..................................  Form provided in FY 2015
 Preservation Certification.                                                      Application Tool Kit.

[[Page 29606]]

 
Assurance Regarding Felony Conviction or  Yes..................................  Form provided in the FY 2015
 Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate                                              Application Tool Kit.
 Applicants.
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    h. Number of copies of submitted applications.
    i. Applications submitted on paper.
    A. Submit the original application and two (2) copies to RUS; and
    B. Submit one (1) additional 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 for the State where the project is 
located. If the project is located in more than one State, submit a 
copy to each state government single point of contact. See http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants_spoc for an updated listing of State 
government single points of contact.
    ii. Electronically submitted applications. Grant applications may 
be submitted electronically. Please carefully read the FY 2015 
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.
    iii. The additional paper copy is not necessary if you submit the 
application electronically through Grants.gov.
    iv. 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. If the project is located in more than one 
State, submit a copy to each state government single point of contact. 
See http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants_spoc for an updated listing of 
State government single points of contact.
    3. Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number and 
System for Award Management (SAM). The applicant for a grant must 
supply a Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) 
number as part of an application. The Standard Form 424 (SF-424) 
contains a field for the DUNS number. The applicant can obtain the DUNS 
number free of charge by calling Dun and Bradstreet. Please see http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform for more information on how to obtain a DUNS 
number or how to verify your organization's number.
    Prior to submitting an application, the applicant must register in 
the System for Award Management (SAM) (formerly Central Contractor 
Registry, (CCR)). Applicants must register for the SAM at https://www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM/. SAM registration must remain active 
with current information at all times while RUS is considering an 
application or while a Federal grant award is active. To maintain SAM 
registration the applicant must review and update the information in 
the SAM database annually from the date of initial registration or from 
the date of the last update. The applicant must ensure that the 
information in the database is current, accurate, and complete.
    4. Submission Dates and Times.
    a. Paper grant applications must be postmarked and mailed, shipped, 
or sent overnight no later than July 6, 2015 to be eligible for FY 2015 
grant funding. Late applications, applications which do not include 
proof of mailing or shipping as described in section D(7)(a)(ii), and 
incomplete applications are not eligible for FY 2015 grant funding.
    b. Electronic grant applications must be received by July 6, 2015 
to be eligible for FY 2015 funding. Late or incomplete applications 
will not be eligible for FY 2015 grant funding.
    c. If the submission deadline falls on Saturday, Sunday, or a 
Federal holiday, the application is due the next business day.
    5. Intergovernmental Review. The DLT grant program is subject to 
Executive Order 12372, ``Intergovernmental Review of Federal 
Programs.'' As stated in section D(2)(h)(i)(B) 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 to determine whether your state has 
a single point of contact.
    6. Funding Restrictions.
    a. Ineligible purposes.
    i. Hub sites that are not located in rural areas are not eligible 
for grant assistance unless they are necessary to provide DLT services 
to end-users in rural areas. Please see 7 CFR 1703.101(h).
    ii. 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 
2015 Application Guide and the program 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 and reiterates 
that reimbursement of pre-award costs is not allowed. 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 2015 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   Yes.
 is capital asset.
Technical assistance, develop instructional  Yes, up to 10% of the
 material for the operation of the            grant.
 equipment, and engineering or
 environmental studies in the
 implementation of the project.
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.
 except for equipment installation and
 associated inside wiring.

[[Page 29607]]

 
Land or building purchase..................  No.
Building Construction......................  No.
Acquiring telecommunications transmission    No (such facilities are
 facilities.                                  only eligible for DLT
                                              loans).
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         No (equipment & facility
 expenses.                                    leases are not recurring
                                              project costs).
Equipment to be owned by the LEC or other    No.
 telecommunications service provider, if
 the provider is the applicant.
Duplicative distance learning or             No.
 telemedicine 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.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    7. Other Submission Requirements.
    Grant applications may be submitted on paper or electronically.
    a. Submitting applications on paper.
    i. Address paper applications to the Telecommunications Program, 
RUS, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Room 
2808, STOP 1597, Washington, DC 20250-1550. Applications should be 
marked ``Attention: Deputy Assistant Administrator, Loan Origination 
and Approval Division.''
    ii. Paper grant applications must show proof of mailing or shipping 
by the deadline consisting of one of the following:
    A. A legibly dated U.S. Postal Service (USPS) postmark;
    B. A legible mail receipt with the date of mailing stamped by the 
USPS; or
    C. A dated shipping label, invoice, or receipt from a commercial 
carrier.
    iii. Due to screening procedures at the U.S. 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.
    b. Electronically submitted applications.
    i. Applications will not be accepted via fax or electronic mail.
    ii. Electronic applications for grants must be submitted through 
the Federal government's Grants.gov initiative at http://www.grants.gov/.
    iii. How to use Grants.gov.
    A. Grants.gov contains full instructions on all required passwords, 
credentialing and software.
    B. System for Award Management. Submitting an application through 
Grants.gov requires that your organization list in the System for Award 
Management (SAM) (formerly Central Contractor Registry, CCR). The 
Agency strongly recommends that you obtain your organization's DUNS 
number and SAM listing well in advance of the deadline specified in 
this notice. See section C(1)(e) for more information on SAM.
    C. 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.
    D. Some or all of the SAM 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.
    iv. RUS encourages applicants who wish to apply through Grants.gov 
to submit their applications in advance of the deadlines.
    v. 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.

E. Application Review Information

    1. Criteria.
    a. Grant application scoring criteria (total possible points: 235). 
See 7 CFR 1703.125 for the items that will be reviewed during scoring, 
and 7 CFR 1703.126 and section E.3 of this NOSA for scoring criteria.
    b. Grant applications are scored competitively subject to the 
criteria listed below.
    i. Rurality category--Rurality of the proposed service area (up to 
45 points).
    ii. NSLP category--percentage of students eligible for the NSLP in 
the proposed service area (up to 35 points).
    iii. Leveraging category--matching funds above the required 
matching level (up to 35 points).
    iv. Need for services proposed in the application and the benefits 
that will be derived if the application receives a grant (up to 55 
points).
    A. 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 category, 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.
    B. 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 that 
documents the need for services and the benefits derived from such 
services. RUS encourages applicants to carefully read the cited 
portions of the Program regulation and the FY 2015 Application Guide 
for full discussions of this criterion.
    v. Innovativeness category--level of innovation demonstrated by the 
project (up to 15 points).

[[Page 29608]]

    vi. Cost Effectiveness category--system cost-effectiveness (up to 
35 points).
    vii. Special Consideration Areas--Application must contain at least 
one end-user site within a trust area or a tribal jurisdictional area 
(15 points).
    2. Review and Selection Process.
    Grant applications are ranked by final score. RUS selects 
applications based on those rankings, subject to the availability of 
funds. 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 for a description of the grant 
application selection process. In addition, it should be noted that an 
application receiving fewer points can be selected over a higher 
scoring application in the event that there are insufficient funds 
available to cover the costs of the higher scoring application, as 
stated in 7 CFR 1703.172(b)(3).
    a. In addition to the scoring criteria that rank applications 
against each other, the Agency evaluates grant applications for 
possible awards on the following items, in accordance with 7 CFR 
1703.127:
    i. Financial feasibility. A proposal that does not indicate 
financial feasibility or that is not sustainable will not be approved 
for an award.
    ii. 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.
    iii. Other aspects of proposals that contain inadequacies that 
would undermine the ability of the project to comply with the policies 
of the DLT Program.
    b. Special considerations or preferences.
    i. American Samoa, Guam, Virgin Islands, and Northern Mariana 
Islands applications are exempt from the matching requirement for 
awards having a match amount of up to $200,000 (see 48 U.S.C. 1469a; 91 
Stat. 1164).
    ii. Special Consideration Areas. RUS will offer special 
consideration to applications that contain at least one end-user site 
within a trust area or a tribal jurisdictional area. Such applications 
will be awarded 15 points. The application must include a map showing 
the end-user site(s) located in the trust area or tribal jurisdictional 
area, as well as the geographical coordinate(s), and physical 
address(es) of the end-user site(s). The applicant will also need to 
submit evidence indicating that the area where the end-user site is 
located is a trust area or a tribal jurisdictional area.
    RUS will use one or more of the following resources in determining 
whether a particular end-user site is located in a trust area or a 
tribal jurisdictional area:
    A. Official maps of Federal Indian Reservations based on 
information compiled by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of 
Indian Affairs, and made available to the public;
    B. Title Status Reports issued by the U.S. Department of the 
Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs showing that title to such land is 
held in trust or is subject to restrictions imposed by the United 
States;
    C. Trust Asset and Accounting Management System data, maintained by 
the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs;
    D. Official maps of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands of the 
State of Hawaii identifying land that has been given the status of 
Hawaiian home lands under the provisions of section 204 of the Hawaiian 
Homes Commission Act, 1920;
    E. Official records of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the 
State of Alaska, or such other documentation of ownership as RUS may 
determine to be satisfactory, showing that title is owned by a Regional 
Corporation or a Village Corporation as such terms are defined in the 
Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.);
    F. Evidence that the land is located on Guam, American Samoa or the 
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and is eligible for use 
in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' direct loan program for 
veterans purchasing or constructing homes on communally owned land; and
    G. Any other evidence submitted by the applicant that is 
satisfactory to RUS to establish that area where the end-user site is 
located is a trust area or a tribal jurisdictional area within the 
meaning of 38 U.S.C. 3765(1).
    b. Clarification: DLT grant applications which have non-fixed end-
user sites, such as ambulance and home health care services, are scored 
according to the location of the hub or hubs used for the project. For 
Hybrid Projects which combine a non-fixed portion of a project to a 
fixed portion of a project, the Rurality Score and NSLP score will be 
based on the score of the end sites of the fixed portion plus the score 
of the hub that serves the non-fixed portion. See the FY 2015 
Application Guide for specific guidance on preparing an application 
with non-fixed end users.

F. Federal Award Administration Information

1. Federal Award Notices
    RUS generally notifies by mail applicants whose projects are 
selected for awards. The mere receipt of an award letter does not serve 
to authorize the applicant to commence performance under the award. 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.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/distance-learning-telemedicine-grants. 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.
2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
    The items listed in Section E of this notice, the DLT Program 
regulation, FY 2015 Application Guide and accompanying materials 
implement the appropriate administrative and national policy 
requirements, which includes but is not limited to:
    a. Execute a Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Agreement;
    b. Use Form SF 270, ``Request for Advance or Reimbursement,'' to 
request reimbursements (along with the submission of receipts for 
expenditures, timesheets, and any other documentation to support the 
request for reimbursement);
    c. Provide annual project performance activity reports until the 
expiration of the award;
    d. Ensure that records are maintained to document all activities 
and expenditures utilizing DLT grant funds and matching funds (receipts 
for expenditures are to be included in this documentation);
    e. Provide a final project performance report;
    f. Comply with policies, guidance, and requirements as described in 
the following applicable Code of Federal Regulations, and any successor 
regulations:
    i. 2 CFR parts 200 and 400 (Uniform Administrative Requirements, 
Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements For Federal Awards); and
    ii. 2 CFR parts 417 and 180 (Government-wide Debarment and 
Suspension (Nonprocurement); and
    g. Sign Form AD-3031 (``Assurance Regarding Felony Conviction or 
Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate Applicants'') (for corporate 
applicants only).

[[Page 29609]]

3. Reporting
    a. 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 for additional information on these reporting requirements.
    b. 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 and Subpart F (Audit Requirements) of 2 CFR part 200 for a 
description of the financial reporting requirements of all recipients 
of DLT financial assistance.
    c. 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:
    i. First Tier Sub-Awards of $25,000 or more (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. Please note that currently underway is a 
consolidation of eight federal procurement systems, including the Sub-
award Reporting System (FSRS), into one system, the System for Award 
Management (SAM). As result the FSRS will soon be consolidated into and 
accessed through https://www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM/.
    ii. 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 https://www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM/ by the end of the month following the 
month in which the award was made.
    iii. 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.
    d. Record Keeping and Accounting. The grant contract will contain 
provisions relating to record keeping and accounting requirements.

G. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts

    1. Web site: http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/distance-learning-telemedicine-grants. The DLT Web site maintains up-to-date 
resources and contact information for DLT programs.
    2. Telephone: 202-720-0800.
    3. Fax: 202-205-2921.
    4. Email: dltinfo@wdc.usda.gov.
    5. Main point of contact: Shawn Arner, Deputy Assistant 
Administrator, Loan Origination and Approval Division, Rural Utilities 
Service.

H. Other Information

1. USDA 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 identity, 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 USDA. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs 
and/or employment activities.)
2. How To File a Complaint
    If you wish to file an employment complaint, you must contact your 
agency's EEO Counselor within 45 days of the date of the alleged 
discriminatory act, event, or in the case of a personnel action. 
Additional information can be found online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_file.html.
    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/complaint_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.
    3. Persons With Disabilities
    Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech 
disabilities and that wish to file either an EEO or program complaint 
may contact USDA through the Federal Relay 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.
Brandon McBride,
Administrator, Rural Utilities Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-12222 Filed 5-21-15; 8:45 am]
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