[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 114 (Monday, June 15, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 34129-34138]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-14676]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Rural Business-Cooperative Service


Inviting Applications for Rural Cooperative Development Grants

AGENCY: Rural Business-Cooperative Service, USDA.

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ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: This Notice announces that the Rural Business-Cooperative 
Service (Agency) is accepting fiscal year (FY) 2015 applications for 
the Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program as authorized by 
the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 
(Pub. L. 113-235). Approximately $5.8 million is available to be 
competitively awarded. The purpose of this program is to provide 
financial assistance to improve the economic condition of rural areas 
through cooperative development. Eligible applicants include a non-
profit corporation or an institution of higher education. 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 its commitment to 
directing resources to those who most need them.

DATES: Completed applications must be submitted on paper or 
electronically according to the following deadlines:
    Paper applications must be postmarked and mailed, shipped, or sent 
overnight no later than July 30, 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. Late applications are not 
eligible for funding under this Notice and will not be evaluated.
    Electronic applications must be received by July 27, 2015 to be 
eligible for grant 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. Late applications are not eligible for funding under this 
Notice and will not be evaluated.

ADDRESSES: You should contact a USDA Rural Development State Office 
(State Office) if you have questions. 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. Contact information for State Offices can be found at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/StateOfficeAddresses.html.
    Program guidance as well as application and matching funds 
templates may be obtained at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/bcp_rcdg.html. 
If you want to submit an electronic application, follow the 
instructions for the RCDG funding announcement located at http://www.grants.gov. 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., Mail Stop Mail Stop-3253, 
Room 4208--South, Washington, DC 20250-3253, (202) 690-1374.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Overview

    Federal Agency: Rural Business-Cooperative Service.
    Funding Opportunity Title: Rural Cooperative Development Grants.
    Announcement Type: Initial funding request.
    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number: 10.771.
    Date: Application Deadline.
    Paper applications must be postmarked, mailed, shipped, or sent 
overnight no later than July 30, 2015, or it will not be considered for 
funding. 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 applications must be received by http://www.grants.gov 
no later than midnight eastern time July 27, 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 0570-0006.

A. Program Description

    The RCDG program is authorized under section 310B(e) of the 
Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (CONACT) (7 U.S.C. 1932(e)) 
as amended by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Pub. L. 113-79). You should 
become familiar with the regulations for this program published at 7 
CFR part 4284, subparts A and F, which are incorporated by reference in 
this Notice. The primary objective of the RCDG program is to improve 
the economic condition of rural areas through cooperative development. 
Grants are awarded on a competitive basis. The maximum award amount per 
grant is $200,000. Grants are available for non-profit corporations or 
higher education institutions only. Grant funds may be used to pay for 
up to 75 percent of the cost of establishing and operating centers for 
rural cooperative development. Grant funds may be used to pay for 95 
percent of the cost of establishing and operating centers for rural 
cooperative development, when the applicant is a 1994 Institution as 
defined by 7 U.S.C. 301. The 1994 Institutions are commonly known as 
Tribal Land Grant Institutions. Centers may have the expertise on staff 
or they can contract out for the expertise, to assist individuals or 
entities in the startup, expansion or operational improvement of rural 
businesses, especially cooperative or mutually-owned businesses.

Definitions

    The terms you need to understand are defined and published at 7 CFR 
4284.3 and 7 CFR 4284.504. In addition, the terms ``rural'' and ``rural 
area,'' defined at section 343(a)(13) of the CONACT (7 U.S.C. 1991(a)), 
are incorporated by reference, and will be used for this program 
instead of those terms currently published at 7 CFR 4284.3. The term 
``you'' referenced throughout this Notice should be understood to mean 
``you'' the applicant. Finally, there has been some confusion on the 
Agency's meaning of the terms ``conflict of interest'' and ``mutually-
owned business,'' because they are not defined in the CONACT or in the 
regulations used for the program. Therefore, the terms are clarified 
and should be understood as follows.
    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. Regarding use 
of both grant and matching funds, 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. An example of conflict of 
interest occurs when the grantee's employees, board of directors, or 
the immediate family of either, have

[[Page 34131]]

the appearance of a professional or personal financial interest in the 
recipients receiving the benefits or services of the grant.
    Mutually-owned business--An organization owned and governed by 
members who either are its consumers, producers, employees, or 
suppliers.

B. Federal Award Information

    Type of Award: Competitive Grant.
    Fiscal Year Funds: FY 2015.
    Total Funding: Approximately $5.8 million.
    Maximum Award: $200,000.
    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

    You must be a nonprofit corporation or an institution of higher 
education to apply for this program. Public bodies and individuals 
cannot apply for this program. See 7 CFR 4284.507. You must also meet 
the following requirements:
    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.'' The Agency will check the System for Award Management 
(SAM) to determine if the applicant has been debarred or suspended. 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. See 7 CFR 4284.6. The 
applicant must certify as part of the application that they do not have 
an outstanding judgement against them. The Agency will check the Credit 
Alert Interactive Voice Response System (CAIVRS) to verify this.
    b. Any corporation that has been convicted of a felony criminal 
violation under any Federal law within the past 24 months or 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. Applicants will be required to complete Form AD-3030, 
``Representations Regarding Felony Conviction and Tax Delinquent Status 
for Corporate Applicants,'' if you are a corporation.
    c. Applications will be deemed ineligible if the application 
includes any funding restrictions identified under Section D.6. a and 
b. Inclusion of funding restrictions outlined in Section D.6. a. and b. 
precludes the agency from making a federal award.
    d. Applications will be deemed ineligible if the application is not 
complete in accordance with the requirements stated in Section C.3.e., 
and will not be reviewed.

2. Cost Sharing or Matching

    Your matching funds requirement is 25 percent of the total project 
cost (5 percent for 1994 Institutions). See 7 CFR 4284.508. When you 
calculate your matching funds requirement, please round up or down to 
whole dollars as appropriate. An example of how to calculate your 
matching funds is as follows:
    a. Take the amount of grant funds you are requesting and divide it 
by .75. This will give you your total project cost.

Example: $200,000 (grant amount)/.75 (percentage for use of grant 
funds) = $266,667 (total project cost)

    b. Subtract the amount of grant funds you are requesting from your 
total project cost. This will give you your matching funds requirement.

Example: $266,667 (total project cost) - $200,000 (grant amount) = 
$66,667 (matching funds requirement)

    c. A quick way to double check that you have the correct amount of 
matching funds is to take your total project cost and multiply it by 
.25.

Example: $266,667 (total project cost) x .25 (maximum percentage of 
matching funds requirement) = $66,667 (matching funds requirement)

    You must verify that all matching funds are available during the 
grant period and provide this documentation with your application in 
accordance with requirements identified in Section D.2.e.8. If you are 
awarded a grant, additional verification documentation may be required 
to confirm the availability of matching funds.
    Other rules for matching funds that you must follow are listed 
below.
     They must be spent on eligible expenses during the grant 
period.
     They must be from eligible sources.
     They must be spent in advance or as a pro-rata portion of 
grant funds being spent.
     They must be provided by either the applicant or a third 
party in the form of cash or an in-kind contribution.
     They cannot include board/advisory council members' time.
     They cannot include other Federal grants unless provided 
by authorizing legislation.
     They cannot include cash or in-kind contributions donated 
outside the grant period.
     They cannot include over-valued, in-kind contributions.
     They cannot include any project costs that are ineligible 
under the RCDG program.
     They cannot include any project costs that are unallowable 
under the applicable grant ``Cost Principles,'' including 2 CFR part 
200, subpart E, and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (for-profits) or 
successor regulation.
     They can include loan funds from a Federal source.
     They can include travel and incidentals for board/advisory 
council members if you have established written policies explaining how 
these costs are normally reimbursed, including rates. You must include 
an explanation of this policy in your application or the contributions 
will not be considered as eligible matching funds.
     You must be able to document and verify the number of 
hours worked and the value associated with any in-kind contribution 
being used to meet a matching funds requirement.
     In-kind contributions provided by individuals, businesses, 
or cooperatives which are being assisted by you cannot be provided for 
the direct benefit of their own projects as USDA Rural Development 
considers this to be a conflict of interest or the appearance of a 
conflict of interest.

3. Other Eligibility Requirements

a. Purpose Eligibility
    Your application must propose the establishment or continuation of 
a cooperative development center concept. You must use project funds, 
including grant and matching funds for eligible purposes only (see 7 
CFR 4284.508). In addition, project funds may be used for programs 
providing for the coordination of services and sharing of information 
among the centers (see 7 U.S.C. 1932(e)(4)(C) (vi)).

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b. Project Eligibility
    All project activities must be for the benefit of a rural area.
c. Multiple Application Eligibility
    Only one application can be submitted per applicant. If two 
applications are submitted (regardless of the applicant name) that 
include the same Executive Director and/or advisory boards or 
committees of an existing center, both applications will be determined 
not eligible for funding.
d. Grant Period
    Your application must include a one-year grant period or it will 
not be considered for funding. The grant period should begin no earlier 
than October 1, 2015, and no later than January 1, 2016. Prior approval 
is needed from the Agency if you are awarded a grant and desire the 
grant period to begin earlier or later than previously discussed. 
Projects must be completed within a one-year timeframe. 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.
e. Completeness
    Your application will not be considered for funding if it fails to 
meet an eligibility criterion by time of application deadline and does 
not provide sufficient information to determine eligibility and 
scoring. In particular, you must include all of the forms and proposal 
elements as discussed in the regulation and as clarified further in 
this Notice. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed by the 
Agency. For more information on what is required for an application, 
see 7 CFR 4284.510.
f. Satisfactory Performance
    If you have an existing RCDG award, you must discuss the status of 
your existing RCDG award at application time under the Eligibility 
Discussion. You must be performing satisfactorily to be considered 
eligible for a new award. Satisfactory performance 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. In addition, if you have an 
existing award from the Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant (SDGG) 
program, formerly known as the Small Socially-Disadvantaged Producer 
Grants (SSDPG) program, you must discuss the status of your existing 
SSDPG award at application time under Eligibility Discussion and be 
performing satisfactorily to be considered for a new RCDG award.
g. Indirect Costs
    Your negotiated indirect cost rate approval does not need to be 
included in your application, but you will be required to provide it if 
a grant is awarded. Approval for indirect costs that are requested in 
an application without an approved indirect cost rate agreement is at 
the discretion of the Agency.

D. Application and Submission Information

1. Address To Request Application Package

    For further information, you should contact your State Office at 
http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/StateOfficeAddresses.html. Program materials 
may also be obtained at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/bcp_rcdg.html. You 
may also obtain a copy by calling 202-690-1374.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

    You may submit your application in paper form or electronically 
through Grants.gov. If you submit in paper form, any forms requiring 
signatures must include an original signature.
a. Electronic Submission
    To submit an application electronically, you must use the 
Grants.gov Web site at http://www.Grants.gov. You may not submit an 
application electronically in any way other than through Grants.gov.
    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.
b. Paper Submission
    If you want to submit a paper application, send it to the State 
Office located in the State where your project will primarily take 
place. You can find State Office Contact information at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/StateOfficeAddresses.html. An optional-use Agency 
application template is available online at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/
BCP_RCDG.html.
c. Supplemental Information
    Your application must contain all of the required forms and 
proposal elements described in 7 CFR 4284.510 and as otherwise 
clarified in this Notice. Specifically, your application must include: 
(1) The required forms as described in 7 CFR 4284.510(b) and (2) the 
required proposal elements as described in 7 CFR 4284.510(c). If your 
application is incomplete, it is ineligible to compete for funds. 
Applications lacking sufficient information to determine eligibility 
and scoring will be considered ineligible. Information submitted after 
the application deadline will not be accepted. You are encouraged, but 
not required to utilize the application template found at http://
www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_RCDG.html.
d. Clarifications on Forms
     Standard Form (SF) 424--Your DUNS number should be 
identified in the ``Organizational DUNS'' field on SF 424, 
``Application for Federal Assistance.'' Since there are no specific 
fields for a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) code and 
expiration date, you may identify them anywhere you want to on Form SF 
424. In addition, you should provide the DUNS number and the CAGE code 
and expiration date under the applicant eligibility discussion in your 
proposal narrative. 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.
     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

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Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. 
Corporations include both for profit and non-profit entities.
     You can voluntarily fill out and submit the ``Survey on 
Ensuring Equal Opportunity for Applicants,'' as part of your 
application if you are a nonprofit organization.
e. Clarifications on Proposal Elements
    1. You must include the title of the project as well as any other 
relevant identifying information on the Title Page.
    2. You must include a Table of Contents with page numbers for each 
component of the application to facilitate review.
    3. Your Executive Summary must include the items in 7 CFR 
4284.510(c)(3), and also discuss the percentage of work that will be 
performed among organizational staff, consultants, or other 
contractors. It should not exceed two pages.
    4. Your Eligibility Discussion must not exceed two pages and cover 
how you meet the eligibility requirements for applicant, matching 
funds, other eligibility requirements and grant period. If you have an 
existing RCDG or the Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant (SDGG) 
program, formerly known as the Small Socially-Disadvantaged Producer 
Grants (SSDPG) program award or both, you must discuss the current 
status of those award(s) under grant period eligibility.
    5. Your Proposal Narrative must not exceed 40 pages and should 
describe the essential aspects of the project.
    i. You are only required to have one title page for the proposal.
    ii. If you list the evaluation criteria on the Table of Contents 
and specifically and individually address each criterion in narrative 
form, then it is not necessary for you to include an Information Sheet. 
Otherwise, the Information Sheet is required under 7 CFR 
4284.510(c)(ii).
    iii. You should include the following under Goals of the Project:
    A. A statement that substantiates that the Center will effectively 
serve rural areas in the United States;
    B. A statement that the primary objective of the Center will be to 
improve the economic condition of rural areas through cooperative 
development;
    C. A description of the contributions that the proposed activities 
are likely to make to the improvement of the economic conditions of the 
rural areas for which the Center will provide services. Expected 
economic impacts should be tied to tasks included in the work plan and 
budget; and
    D. A statement that the Center, in carrying out its activities, 
will seek, where appropriate, the advice, participation, expertise, and 
assistance of representatives of business, industry, educational 
institutions, the Federal government, and State and local governments.
    iv. The Agency has established annual performance evaluation 
measures to evaluate the RCDG program. You must provide estimates on 
the following performance evaluation measures.
     Number of groups who are not legal entities assisted.
     Number of businesses that are not cooperatives assisted.
     Number of cooperatives assisted.
     Number of businesses incorporated that are not 
cooperatives.
     Number of cooperatives incorporated.
     Total number of jobs created as a result of assistance.
     Total number of jobs saved as a result of assistance.
     Number of jobs created for the Center as a result of RCDG 
funding.
     Number of jobs saved for the Center as a result of RCDG 
funding.
    It is permissible to have a zero in a performance element. When you 
calculate jobs created, estimates should be based upon actual jobs to 
be created by your organization as a result of the RCDG funding or 
actual jobs to be created by cooperative businesses or other businesses 
as a result of assistance from your organization. When you calculate 
jobs saved, estimates should be based only on actual jobs that have 
been lost if your organization did not receive RCDG funding or actual 
jobs that would have been lost without assistance from your 
organization.
    v. You can also suggest additional performance elements for example 
where job creation or jobs saved may not be a relevant indicator (e.g. 
housing). These additional criteria should be specific, measurable 
performance elements that could be included in an award document.
    vi. You must describe in the application how you will undertake to 
do each of the following. We would prefer if you described these 
undertakings within proposal evaluation criteria to reduce duplication 
in your application. The specific proposal evaluation criterion where 
you should address each undertaking is noted below.
    A. Take all practicable steps to develop continuing sources of 
financial support for the Center, particularly from sources in the 
private sector (should be presented under proposal evaluation criterion 
j., utilizing the specific requirements of Section E.1.j.);
    B. Make arrangements for the Center's activities to be monitored 
and evaluated (should be addressed under proposal evaluation criterion 
number h. utilizing the specific requirements of Section E.1.h.); and
    C. Provide an accounting for the money received by the grantee in 
accordance with 7 CFR part 4284, subpart F. This should be addressed 
under proposal evaluation criterion number a., utilizing the specific 
requirements of Section E.1.a.
    vii. You should present the Work Plan and Budget proposal element 
under proposal evaluation criterion number h., utilizing the specific 
requirements of Section E.1.h. of this Notice to reduce duplication in 
your application.
    viii. You should present the Delivery of Cooperative development 
assistance proposal element under proposal evaluation criterion number 
b., utilizing the specific requirements of Section E.1.b. of this 
Notice.
    ix. You should present the Qualifications of Personnel proposal 
element under proposal evaluation criterion number i., utilizing the 
specific requirements of Section E.1.i. of this Notice.
    x. You should present the Local Support and Future Support proposal 
elements under proposal evaluation criterion number j., utilizing the 
requirements of Section E.1.j. of this Notice.
    xi. Your application will not be considered for funding if you do 
not address all of the proposal evaluation criteria. See Section E.1. 
of this Notice for a description of the proposal evaluation criteria.
    xii. Only appendices A-C will be considered when evaluating your 
application. You must not include resumes of staff or consultants in 
the application.
    6. 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.
    7. You must certify that matching funds will be available at the 
same time grant funds are anticipated to be spent and that expenditures 
of matching funds

[[Page 34134]]

are pro-rated or spent in advance of grant funding, such that for every 
dollar of the total project cost, not less than the required amount of 
matching funds will be expended. Please note that this Certification is 
a separate requirement from the Verification of Matching Funds 
requirement. To satisfy the Certification requirement, you should 
include this statement in your application: ``[INSERT NAME OF 
APPLICANT] certifies that matching funds will be available at the same 
time grant funds are anticipated to be spent and that expenditures of 
matching funds shall be pro-rated or spent in advance of grant funding, 
such that for every dollar of the total project cost, at least 25 cents 
(5 cents for 1994 Institutions) of matching funds will be expended.'' A 
separate signature is not required.
    8. You must provide documentation in your application to verify all 
of your proposed matching funds. The documentation must be included in 
Appendix A of your application and will not count towards the 40-page 
limitation. Template letters are available for each type of matching 
funds contribution at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/bcp_rcdg.html.
    a. If matching funds are to be provided in cash, you must meet the 
following requirements.
     You: The application must include a statement verifying 
(1) the amount of the cash and (2) the source of the cash. You may also 
provide a bank statement dated 30 days or less from the application 
deadline date to verify your cash match.
     Third-party: The application must include a signed letter 
from the third party verifying (1) how much cash will be donated and 
(2) that it will be available corresponding to the proposed grant 
period or donated on a specific date within the grant period.
    b. If matching funds are to be provided by an in-kind donation, you 
must meet the following requirements.
     You: The application must include a signed letter from you 
or your authorized representative verifying (1) the nature of the goods 
and/or services to be donated and how they will be used, (2) when the 
goods and/or services will be donated (i.e., corresponding to the 
proposed grant period or to specific dates within the grant period), 
and (3) the value of the goods and/or services. Please note that most 
applicant contributions for the RCDG program are considered applicant 
cash match in accordance with this Notice. If you are unsure, please 
contact your State Office because identifying your matching funds 
improperly can affect your scoring.
     Third-Party: The application must include a signed letter 
from the third party verifying (1) the nature of the goods and/or 
services to be donated and how they will be used, (2) when the goods 
and/or services will be donated (i.e., corresponding to the proposed 
grant period or to specific dates within the grant period), and (3) the 
value of the goods and/or services.
    To ensure that you are identifying and verifying your matching 
funds appropriately, please note the following:
     If you are paying for goods and/or services as part of the 
matching funds requirement, the expenditure is considered a cash match, 
and you must verify it as such. Universities must verify the goods and 
services they are providing to the project as a cash match and the 
verification must be approved by the appropriate approval official 
(i.e., sponsored programs office or equivalent).
     If you have already received cash from a third-party 
(i.e., Foundation) before the start of your proposed grant period, you 
must verify this as your own cash match and not as a third-party cash 
match. If you are receiving cash from a third-party during the grant 
period, then you must be verifying the cash as a third-party cash 
match.
     Board resolutions for a cash match must be approved at the 
time of application.
     You can only consider goods or services for which no 
expenditure is made as an in-kind contribution.
     If a non-profit or another organization contributes the 
services of affiliated volunteers, they must follow the third-party, 
in-kind donation verification requirement for each individual 
volunteer.
     Expected program income may not be used to fulfill your 
matching funds requirement at the time you submit your application. 
However, if you have a contract to provide services in place at the 
time you submit your application, you can verify the amount of the 
contract as a cash match.
     The valuation process you use for in-kind contributions 
does not need to be included in your application, but you must be able 
to demonstrate how the valuation was derived if you are awarded a 
grant. The grant award may be withdrawn or the amount of the grant 
reduced if you cannot demonstrate how the valuation was derived.
    Successful applicants must comply with requirements identified in 
Section F, Federal Award Administration.

3. Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) and System 
for Awards Management (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, 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 30, 2015.
    Explanation of Deadlines: Complete applications must be submitted 
on paper or electronically according to the following deadlines:
    Paper applications must be postmarked and mailed, shipped, or sent 
overnight no later than July 30, 2015, to be eligible for grant 
funding. 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 will 
automatically be deemed ineligible.
    Electronic applications must be received by http://www.grants.gov 
no later than midnight eastern time July 27, 2015, to be eligible for 
grant 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.

[[Page 34135]]

5. Intergovernmental Review of Applications

    Executive Order (E.O.) 12372, ``Intergovernmental Review of Federal 
Programs,'' applies to this program. This E.O. 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. For a list of 
States that maintain a SPOC, please see the White House Web site: 
http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants_spoc. If your State has a SPOC, 
you may submit a copy of the application directly for review. Any 
comments obtained through the SPOC must be provided to your State 
Office for consideration as part of your application. If your State has 
not established a SPOC, or if you do not want to submit a copy of the 
application, our State Offices will submit your application to the SPOC 
or other appropriate agency or agencies.

6. Funding Restrictions

    a. Project funds, including grant and matching funds, cannot be 
used for ineligible grant purposes (see 7 CFR 4284.10). Also, you shall 
not use project funds for the following:
     To purchase, rent, or install laboratory equipment or 
processing machinery;
     To pay for the operating costs of any entity receiving 
assistance from the Center;
     To pay costs of the project where a conflict of interest 
exists;
     To fund any activities prohibited by 2 CFR part 200; or
     To fund any activities considered unallowable by 2 CFR 
part 200, subpart E, ``Cost Principles,'' and the Federal Acquisition 
Regulation (for-profits) or successor regulations.
    b. In addition, your application will not be considered for funding 
if it does any of the following:
     Focuses assistance on only one cooperative or mutually-
owned business;
     Requests more than the maximum grant amount; or
     Proposes ineligible costs that equal more than 10 percent 
of total project costs. The ineligible costs will NOT be removed at 
this stage to proceed with application processing. For purposes of this 
determination, the grant amount requested plus the matching funds 
amount constitutes the total project costs.
    We will consider your application for funding if it includes 
ineligible costs of 10 percent or less of total project costs, as long 
as the remaining costs are 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 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 instruction for this 
funding announcement at http://www.grants.gov. A password is not 
required to access the Web site.
    b. National Environmental Policy Act
    All recipients under this Notice are subject to the requirements of 
7 CFR part 1940, subpart G and any successor regulations. However, 
technical assistance awards under this Notice are classified as a 
Categorical Exclusion according to 7 CFR 1940.310(e), and 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

    The State Offices will review applications to determine if they are 
eligible for assistance based on requirements in 7 CFR part 4284, 
subparts A and F, 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. 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.

1. Scoring Criteria

    Scoring criteria will follow criteria published at 7 CFR 4284.513 
as supplemented below including any amendments made by the Section 6013 
of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Pub. L. 110-234), 
which is incorporated by reference in this Notice. The regulatory and 
statutory criteria are clarified and supplemented below. You should 
also include information as described in Section D.2.e.5.vi. if you 
choose to address these items under the scoring criteria. Evaluators 
will base scores only on the information provided or cross-referenced 
by page number in each individual evaluation criterion. The maximum 
amount of points available is 100. Newly established or proposed 
Centers that do not yet have a track record on which to evaluate the 
following criteria should refer to the expertise and track records of 
staff or consultants expected to perform tasks related to the 
respective criteria. Proposed or newly established Centers must be 
organized well-enough at time of application to address its 
capabilities for meeting these criteria.
    a. Administrative capabilities (maximum score of 10 points). A 
panel of USDA employees will evaluate your demonstrated track record in 
carrying out activities in support of development assistance to 
cooperatively and mutually owned businesses. At a minimum, you must 
discuss the following administrative capabilities:
    1. Financial systems and audit controls;
    2. Personnel and program administration performance measures;
    3. Clear written rules of governance; and
    4. Experience administering Federal grant funding no later than the 
last 5 years, including but not limited to past RCDGs. Please list the 
name of the Federal grant program(s) and the amount(s) of funding 
received.
    You will score higher on this criterion if you can demonstrate that 
the Center has independent governance. For applicants that are 
universities or parent organizations, you should demonstrate that there 
is a separate board of directors for the Center.
    b. Technical assistance and other services (maximum score of 10 
points). A panel of USDA employees will evaluate your demonstrated 
expertise no later than the last 5 years in providing technical 
assistance and accomplishing effective outcomes in rural areas to 
promote and assist the development of cooperatively and mutually owned 
businesses. You must discuss at least:
    1. Your potential for delivering effective technical assistance;
    2. The types of assistance provided;
    3. The expected effects of that assistance;

[[Page 34136]]

    4. The sustainability of organizations receiving the assistance; 
and
    5. The transferability of your cooperative development strategies 
and focus to other areas of the U.S.
    A chart or table showing the outcomes of your demonstrated 
expertise based upon the performance elements listed in Section D.5.iv. 
or as identified in your award document on previous RCDG awards. At a 
minimum, please provide information for FY 2011-FY 2013 awards. We 
prefer that you provide one chart or table separating out award years. 
The intention here is for you to provide actual performance numbers 
based upon award years even though your grant period for the award was 
for the next calendar or fiscal year. Please provide a narrative 
explanation if you have not received a RCDG award.
    You will score higher on this criterion if you provide more than 3 
years of outcomes and can demonstrate that the organizations you 
assisted within the last 5 years are sustainable. Additional outcome 
information should be provided on RCDG grants awarded before FY 2011. 
Please describe specific project(s) when addressing a-e of this 
paragraph.
    c. Economic development (maximum score of 10 points). A panel of 
USDA employees will evaluate your demonstrated ability to facilitate:
    1. Establishment of cooperatives or mutually owned businesses;
    2. New cooperative approaches (i.e., organizing cooperatives among 
underserved individuals or communities; an innovative market approach; 
a type of cooperative currently not in your service area; a new 
cooperative structure; novel ways to raise member equity or community 
capitalization; conversion of an existing business to cooperative 
ownership); and
    3. Retention of businesses, generation of employment opportunities 
or other factors, as applicable, that will otherwise improve the 
economic conditions of rural areas.
    You will score higher on this criterion if you provide economic 
statistics showing the impacts of your past development projects no 
later than 5 years old and identify your role in the economic 
development outcomes.
    d. Past performance in establishing legal business entities 
(maximum score of 10 points). A panel of USDA employees will evaluate 
your demonstrated past performance in establishing legal cooperative 
business entities and other legal business entities during FY 2012-FY 
2014. Provide the name of the organization(s) established, the date of 
formation and your role in assisting with the incorporation(s) under 
this criterion. In addition, documentation verifying the establishment 
of legal business entities must be included in Appendix C of your 
application and will not count against the 40-page limit for the 
narrative. The documentation must include proof that organizational 
documents were filed with the Secretary of State's Office (i.e. 
Certificate of Incorporation or information from the State's official 
Web site naming the entity established and the date of establishment); 
or if the business entity is not required to register with the 
Secretary of State, a certification from the business entity that a 
legal business entity has been established and when. Please note that 
you are not required to submit articles of incorporation to receive 
points under this criterion. You will score higher on this criterion if 
you have established legal cooperative businesses.
    e. Networking and regional focus (maximum score of 10 points). A 
panel of USDA employees will evaluate your demonstrated commitment to:
    1. Networking with other cooperative development centers, and other 
organizations involved in rural economic development efforts, and
    2. Developing multi-organization and multi-state approaches to 
addressing the economic development and cooperative needs of rural 
areas.
    You will score higher on this criterion if you can demonstrate the 
outcomes of your multi-organizational and multi-state approaches. 
Please describe the project(s), partners and the outcome(s) that 
resulted from the approach.
    f. Commitment (maximum score of 10 points). A panel of USDA 
employees will evaluate your commitment to providing technical 
assistance and other services to under-served and economically 
distressed areas in rural areas of the United States. You will score 
higher on this criterion if you define and describe the underserved and 
economically distressed areas within your service area, provide 
statistics, and identify projects within or affecting these areas, as 
appropriate.
    g. Matching Funds (maximum score of 10 points). A panel of USDA 
employees will evaluate your commitment for the 25 percent (5 percent 
for 1994 Institutions) matching funds requirement. A chart or table 
should be provided to describe all matching funds being committed to 
the project. However, formal documentation to verify all of the 
matching funds must be included in Appendix A of your application. You 
will be scored on how you identify your matching funds.
    1. If you met the 25 percent (5 percent for 1994 Institutions) 
matching requirement, points will be assigned as follows:
     In-kind only--1 point,
     Mix of in-kind and cash--3-4 points (maximum points will 
be awarded if the ratio of cash to in-kind is 30 percent and above of 
matching funds), or
     Cash only--5 points.
    2. If you exceeded the 25 percent (5 percent for 1994 Institutions) 
matching requirement, points will be assigned as follows:
     In-kind only--2 points,
     Mix of in-kind and cash--6-7 points (maximum points will 
be awarded if the ratio of cash to in-kind is 30 percent and above of 
matching funds), or
     Cash only--10 points.
    h. Work Plan/Budget (maximum score of 10 points). A panel of USDA 
employees will evaluate your work plan for detailed actions and an 
accompanying timetable for implementing the proposal. The budget must 
present a breakdown of the estimated costs associated with cooperative 
and business development activities as well as the operation of the 
Center and allocate these costs to each of the tasks to be undertaken. 
Matching funds as well as grant funds must be accounted for in the 
budget.
    You must discuss at a minimum:
    1. Specific tasks (whether it be by type of service or specific 
project) to be completed using grant and matching funds;
    2. How customers will be identified;
    3. Key personnel; and
    4. The evaluation methods to be used to determine the success of 
specific tasks and overall objectives of Center operations. Please 
provide qualitative methods of evaluation. For example, evaluation 
methods should go beyond quantitative measurements of completing 
surveys or number of evaluations.
    You will score higher on this criterion if you present a clear, 
logical, realistic, and efficient work plan and budget.
    i. Qualifications of those Performing the Tasks (maximum score of 
10 points). A panel of USDA employees will evaluate your application to 
determine if the personnel expected to perform key tasks have a track 
record of:
    1. Positive solutions for complex cooperative development and/or 
marketing problems; or
    2. A successful record of conducting accurate feasibility studies, 
business plans, marketing analysis, or other activities relevant to 
your success as determined by the tasks identified in the your work 
plan; and
    3. Whether the personnel expected to perform the tasks are full/
part-time

[[Page 34137]]

employees of your organization or are contract personnel.
    You will score higher on this criterion if you demonstrate 
commitment and availability of qualified personnel expected to perform 
the tasks.
    j. Local and Future Support (maximum score of 10 points). A panel 
of USDA employees will evaluate your application for local and future 
support. Support should be discussed directly within the response to 
this criterion.
    1. Discussion on local support should include previous and/or 
expected local support and plans for coordinating with other 
developmental organizations in the proposed service area or with state 
and local government institutions. You will score higher if you 
demonstrate strong support from potential beneficiaries and formal 
evidence of intent to coordinate with other developmental 
organizations. You may also submit a maximum of 10 letters of support 
or intent to coordinate with the application to verify your discussion. 
These letters should be included in Appendix B of your application and 
will not count against the 40-page limit for the narrative.
    2. Discussion on future support will include your vision for 
funding operations in future years. You should document:
    (i) New and existing funding sources that support your goals;
    (ii) Alternative funding sources that reduce reliance on Federal, 
State, and local grants; and
    (iii) The use of in-house personnel for providing services versus 
contracting out for that expertise. Please discuss your strategy for 
building in-house technical assistance capacity.
    You will score higher if you can demonstrate that your future 
support will result in long-term sustainability of the Center.

2. Review and Selection Process

    The State Offices will review applications to determine if they are 
eligible for assistance based on requirements in 7 CFR part 4284, 
subparts A and F, 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. 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 evaluated, but 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 from the State Office where your 
application was submitted, 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. 
You must comply with all applicable statutes, regulations, and notice 
requirements before the grant award will be approved. There will be no 
available funds for successful appellants once all FY 15 funds are 
awarded and obligated. See 7 CFR part 11 for USDA National Appeals 
Division procedures.

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 F; the Grants and 
Agreements regulations of the Department of Agriculture codified in 2 
CFR parts 180, 400, 415, 417, 418, 421; 2 CFR parts 25 and 170; and 48 
CFR 31.2, and successor regulations to these parts.
    In addition, 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 of 2006 (Pub. L. 109-282) 
reporting requirements (see 2 CFR 170.200(b), unless you are exempt 
under 2 CFR 170.110(b)).
    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 Drug-Free 
Workplace Requirements (Grants).''
     Form RD 400-4, ``Assurance Agreement.''
     SF LLL, ``Disclosure of Lobbying Activities,'' if 
applicable.
     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.

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). 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

    If you have questions about this Notice, please contact the 
appropriate State Office at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/StateOfficeAddresses.html. Program guidance as well as application and 
matching funds templates may be obtained at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/bcp_rcdg.html. If you want to submit an electronic application, follow 
the instructions for the RCDG funding announcement located at http://www.grants.gov. You may also contact National Office staff: Susan 
Horst, RCDG Program Lead, susan.horst@wdc.usda.gov, or call the main 
line at 202-690-1374.

H. Nondiscrimination Statement

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination 
against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the 
bases

[[Page 34138]]

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 the Department. (Not all 
prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment 
activities.)
    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.
    Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech 
disabilities and you wish to file either an EEO or program complaint 
please 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: June 9, 2015.
Chad Parker,
Acting Administrator, Rural Business Cooperative Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-14676 Filed 6-12-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3410-XY-P